Analysts 'overpay' claim ignores critical Carolina Panthers flaw

The opinion was somewhat short sighted.
Robert Hunt
Robert Hunt / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

After enduring one of the worst seasons in franchise history, the Carolina Panthers had to do something drastic this offseason. Dan Morgan, Brandt Tilis, and Dave Canales shook things up considerably. There was also one primary focus of the team's significant investments that took little time to surface.

Morgan made surrounding quarterback Bryce Young with a more productive supporting cast his most pressing priority above all else. The No. 1 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft came into the organization with a glowing reputation. Unfortunately, this was a terrible situation and he suffered arguably more than anybody.

The Panthers must get a genuine evaluation of Young over the next two seasons. He's responding well to improved coaching over early workouts. There is increased focus across the board and fewer voices in his ear. But until other offensive position groups raise their respective bars, nothing will change.

This all started up front. The Panthers didn't have much to spend heading into free agency, but they moved money around enough to land two marquee signings who stand to make Young's life considerably easier.

Analytics expert claims the Carolina Panthers overpaid for Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis

Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis were acquired to become Carolina's new starting offensive guard tandem. They are big, nasty, and accomplished performers. Considering how the Heisman Trophy winner spent most of his debut NFL season running for life, these additions are a dream come true.

While Seth Walder from ESPN acknowledged the new signings should provide a boost to Carolina's woeful offensive line, the analytics guru thought those in power overpaid for their services. He's not alone in that thought, but it's not like the Panthers are in a position to convince veterans to accept a little less looking at the current state of affairs.

"In free agency, the [Carolina] Panthers beefed up the interior of their offensive line, handing out a massive contract to [Robert] Hunt and a large deal to fellow guard Damien Lewis. The Panthers ranked 30th and 23rd in run block win rate and pass block win rate, respectively, in 2023, so upgrading the line was paramount. However, these contracts look like overpays and Carolina is not in a particularly strong cap situation going forward."

Seth Walder, ESPN

To get the best, you have to pay. This is especially significant for teams like the Panthers.

They were the league's worst team in record and perception last time around. The Panthers aren't a big market franchise or an attractive destination. That dangerous combination almost guarantees they need to spend a little more than the average club to get their desired targets.

It's basic supply and demand.

Walder's assessment ignored the dire need for Carolina to fix a critical flaw in this area of the field. Putting on game film from any contest last season will tell anybody how bad things were along the protection - Taylor Moton's outstanding consistency aside. Injuries didn't help, but this unit was devoid of quality and confidence as Young became one of the NFL's most sacked quarterbacks in 2023.

It's a miracle Young stayed healthy for all but one game. But for the Panthers to protect their prized possession moving forward, beefing up the trenches was the only viable direction.

If Hunt and Lewis do what's expected, nobody will be complaining about what it took to get them into the building. It's that simple.