Carolina Panthers being used as leverage bait is depressing reality

It's time to shift the narrative.

Dan Morgan
Dan Morgan / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Players using the Carolina Panthers as leverage to get better deals elsewhere is the depressing reality Dan Morgan must remove from the equation.

The Carolina Panthers are still frantically trying to find some decent veteran pieces to make things easier for quarterback Bryce Young and help their depleted defensive unit. Dan Morgan and the new power structure are embarking on a roster overhaul and investment transition. Yet, the same old problems remain.

Looking at the situation with recent targets indicates one thing above all else. The Panthers are still being used as leverage bait to get better offers. As a two-win team perceived in a terrible light around the league, fans should have expected as much.

Mike Williams set up meetings with the Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers. This provided the New York Jets with enough urgency to not let the big-bodied wide receiver leave without a deal worth up to $15 million for one season. This is a significant sum for someone coming off an ACL tear, which Carolina might not have matched in any case looking at the way Brandt Tilis has gone about his business as the team's new salary-cap manager.

Carolina Panthers have faced an uphill battle this offseason

Defensive end Chase Young met with the Panthers but left without any official agreement. He turned this into something positive, signing a one-year contract with the New Orleans Saints that could net the former No. 2 overall pick $13 million if he reaches incentives. This is staggering when one considers he is about to have neck surgery that will keep him out until training camp at the earliest.

Jadeveon Clowney is also looking elsewhere with extra leverage following a visit. But it's not just established names using the Panthers to their advantage.

The Panthers appeared to have agreed to terms with backup linebacker and special teamer Justin Strnad, who worked with Ejiro Evero previously with the Denver Broncos. That was until there was a last-minute change of heart from the player after sources within the organization revealed to beat reporters that the deal had been done.

Strnad went back on his original intention and signed an extension with the Broncos. No great loss all things considered, but it's yet another example of players looking elsewhere if they get even a moderately better offer.

Changing perception is going to take time. The Panthers descended into a laughingstock last season through subpar performances, another head coach firing, and their petulant owner. Morgan and his team seem to be conducting business with more professionalism this time around. Not everyone has approved of the tough decisions made, but there is a plan with the best intentions at heart.

Carolina has always had to overpay for veteran free agents. Being an underachiever in a small market will do that. The Panthers have gained whatever success they've accomplished throughout their three-decade existence by building through the draft and supplementing through free agency and trades. The sooner Morgan gets back to that, the better.

Until then, it's all about finding players that want to be here. That's always half the battle and Carolina is not the only team getting leveraged against. But the urgent need to shift narratives and prove this franchise is on the right track cannot be overstated.

How long that takes is the big question.