With Matt Rhule no longer complicating matters, the Carolina Panthers are finally making srious football moves in pursuit of progression next season.
It's been a long time coming. But the Carolina Panthers are finally doing football business the right way after some serious mismanagement in recent years.
One can point the finger squarely at previous head coach Matt Rhule. Team owner David Tepper gave him the final say on personnel matters and reports after his firing suggested that there wasn't much anyone could do about it.
This held the Panthers back significantly. Rhule is thankfully no longer part of the equation, which has been especially notable throughout the current offseason as general manager Scott Fitterer leads the charge.
Carolina Panthers should be taken seriously again in 2023
Fitterer has been aggressive and has the full support of those around him. There is a clear plan in place - to mold a roster ready for their new rookie quarterback to slot in and make an immediate impression.
The last few days of free agency have been fascinating from Carolina's standpoint. There's been plenty of wheeling and dealing from those in power, with key figures retained in some capacity and some outstanding signings at team-friendly prices for good measure.
Vonn Bell, DeShawn Williams, Miles Sanders, Shy Tuttle, and Hayden Hurst should all upgrade their respective positions in 2023. The Panthers also got a solid quarterback mentor in Andy Dalton, who'll play an important role behind the scenes to ensure whoever goes No. 1 overall gets up to speed quickly.
This is night and day from how things have unfolded in previous years. A more structured, cohesive approach without one man's stubbornness getting in the way is bearing fruit, which also looks set to give the Panthers a little more freedom during the draft once their quarterback comes on board from the top spot.
Rhule was incapable and incompetent in equal measure. But in fairness to Tepper, he made amends by hiring head coach Frank Reich and giving him a blank checkbook to mold the best staff imaginable earlier this year.
In turn, this has allowed Fitterer to sell the Panthers as an attractive destination. One that is progressive, led by football people with vast experience, and ready to contend at the earliest possible opportunity.
There are still some holes to fill. Most notably when it comes to wide receiver, cornerback, linebacker, and offensive line depth. But the Panthers are off to a good start and Fitterer deserves an enormous amount of credit for his work so far.
While there's every chance Rhule thrives at Nebraska, his meddling methods and overbearing personality aren't missed in the slightest. People are starting to take the Panthers seriously again and the majority of fans genuinely believe something special is transpiring before their very eyes.
Fitterer was a man under pressure heading into the offseason. However, these early moves indicate that the Panthers are in safe hands from a personnel standpoint at long last.
There is real trust across the franchise. Every opinion counts and the deep connections of Carolina's all-star coaching staff are also assisting greatly as expected.
This could all change if the Panthers don't get their franchise quarterback by making the incorrect call. Something that could also make or break Fitterer's own job prospects along the way.
For now, it's so far, so good for the Panthers. And long may it continue.