Carolina Panthers 8 most franchise-changing offseason moments
Looking back over Panthers history, what are eight off-season moments that changed the franchise? For better or worse.
The Panthers organization has been through ups and downs throughout its 27-year history. The money is made on the field, but the moves made during the off-season are critical to building the team where the fans, coaches, players, front office, and ownership all want it to be, at the top of the NFL.
Since its inception, Carolina has gone through two stadiums in two different states, two owners, five head coaches, and eight head executives. All of that has led the team to a record of 205-227-1, eight playoff appearances, six division titles, four conference championship appearances, and a record of 0-2 in the super bowl.
Many franchise-altering moments have happened during past off-season periods for the Carolina Panthers. Some were good, and some were bad.
Here are eight franchising-changing off-season moments in Panthers history.
Panthers franchise-changing moment No. 8: Drafting Julius Peppers in 2002
Carolina possessed the 2nd overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. In a draft class highlighted by star running backs such as Clinton Portis, Brian Westbrook, T.J Duckett, and Willie Green, and a slew of impact players on the defensive side of the ball like Ed Reed, Brett Keisel, and Dwight Freeney. However, none of these players except for Ed Reed had the NFL career that Julius Peppers had.
Peppers coming out of North Carolina was seen as a generational edge rusher, similar to Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney when they were coming into their drafts. The Panthers lucked out and got him 2nd overall behind Houston’s selection of David Carr.
The homegrown talent played his first eight seasons with the Panthers. He racked up 81 sacks, 91 tackles for loss, 30 forced fumbles, six interceptions, and three defensive touchdowns.
He also received the defensive rookie of the year in 2002, alongside two 1st-team all-pro and two 2nd-team all-pro appearances and five pro bowl appearances in his eight seasons. It is safe to say that he was a franchise-altering selection.
Peppers left Carolina in the 2009 free agency to join the Chicago Bears. And he ended up going to Green Bay for a spell before playing his last two seasons in Carolina and retiring a Panther.
The future Hall of Famer and one of the best pass rushers of all time was one of the biggest contributors to Carolina’s super bowl appearance in 2003. And in his prime, Peppers was the most feared pass rusher in the NFL, and he regularly gave quarterbacks around the league nightmares.