4 factors that make Carolina Panthers 2023 offseason the most important

(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) David Tepper
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) David Tepper /
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Carolina Panthers
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Understanding the Carolina Panthers DNA

The Carolina Panthers first put cleats in the grass in 1995 after original franchise owner Jerry Richardson successfully secured the bag as one of two expansion teams to enter the NFL. That was an objective that took six years to achieve, having made his formal bid to bring a team to the Carolinas in 1987.

It was that perseverance, coupled with the fact that Richardson was also a North Carolina native, that instantly tethered this franchise to its fanbase and hometown.

They finished their inaugural season with the best record of any first-year expansion team, going 7-9 under head coach Dom Capers. Apparently, we knew exactly who the Panthers would be right then.

A tough-nosed football team that fights to defy the odds. And they are going to go 7-9 a whole lot. No, seriously.

The Panthers have finished at exactly 7-9 in eight of 28 seasons. That’s more than 25 percent of the franchise’s existence and doesn’t include the multiple 8-8 records and even a 7-8-1 doozy.

Mediocrity has been a reality for the team and its fans.

Extreme highs and lows have also been a reality. The Panthers have been to two Super Bowls, limping away in defeat from both. They’ve also, under their own free will, trotted out quarterback Chris Weinke to a startling 1-15 franchise low mark.

When Richardson sold the franchise to David Tepper, it presented an opportunity to look at where you’ve been and who you are as a professional football organization. Under the guise of a very rich and very aggressively determined new owner, Carolina had an opportunity to emerge from irrelevance and into the NFL’s next tier.

It was officially the Tepper era. But the optimistic warm and fuzzies essentially washed out before they ever had a chance to take hold and that’s why the upcoming offseason is so important for the billionaire’s legacy.