Carolina Panthers must learn from previous errors with major decisions looming

Derrick Brown
Derrick Brown / Silas Walker/GettyImages

Carolina Panthers general manager Dan Morgan must learn from the team's previous errors with some significant decisions looming.

Dan Morgan's been thrown into a baptism of fire this offseason. The Carolina Panthers implemented big changes across the board once again to increase the level of stability across the franchise. It's time for a genuine long-term plan to get this struggling team off its knees. First comes respectability. After that, those in power can begin thinking about taking the next step into contention.

Morgan made some difficult choices to begin his first recruitment period as general manager. Established veterans were released as part of cost-cutting measures. Dynamic figures such as Frankie Luvu left in free agency. There was even the small matter of stud edge rusher Brian Burns being traded to the New York Giants.

This came with criticism attached, but Morgan was just cleaning up the mess made by previous regimes. Of course, he was part of that process, which is why stamping his mark through a collaborative vision alongside Dave Canales and Brandt Tilis was critical.

Carolina Panthers must change their approach with top stars

It also means the Panthers must learn from past errors. Especially considering some big decisions are looming with two of their most talented players.

Derrick Brown is coming off a Pro Bowl campaign where he broke the NFL's single-season tackle record for interior defensive linemen. He's got one year remaining on his deal and the situation with Burns won't have gone unnoticed by Drew Rosenhaus - one of the most respected agents in the business.

Morgan stated that initial talks have been encouraging regarding Brown's new deal, although nothing concrete is ready to be revealed as yet. However, the general manager is confident everything can reach a successful conclusion based on comments via the team's website.

"I'm not going to put any timetable on it; we have had some good discussions with his agent. But as of right now, we're working through that, and hopefully, it ends up working out at the end, which I think it will."

Dan Morgan via

Based on his representation and the fact he saw first-hand how Burns' professionalism wasn't rewarded, the chances of Brown holding out are high. That's why paying him ahead of time is the best possible solution for all parties. It also sends the right message to others looking for long-term financial security in the coming years.

Another pressing item on Morgan's agenda centers on Jaycee Horn's fifth-year option. The Panthers have until May 2 to trigger the extension to avoid the talented cornerback becoming a free agent in 2025. While it's a no-brainer from a production standpoint, the South Carolina product's inability to stay healthy does raise some concerns.

Morgan's comments seem to suggest that the Panthers will activate Horn's fifth year in the hope of better luck on the health front. If the Panthers don't and the defensive back puts a consistent run of games together, that puts them in an unnecessary financial bind that could hinder their extensive rebuild.

"We obviously think very highly of Jaycee and the player that he is; I think he's one of the better corners in the NFL. He's had some unfortunate injuries that are kind of out of his hands, but we love Jaycee and the player and the person that he is."

Dan Morgan via

These issues - together with many others - must be navigated carefully by Morgan. He cannot afford to have the Panthers' reputation on and off the field decrease anymore. He needs to install a level of professionalism and competence that was sorely lacking during the Matt Rhule and Scott Fitterer years.

Morgan is getting a crash course in what it takes to be an NFL general manager. He's been in front-office positions before, but nothing prepares you for the big leap into a prominent leadership position. Certainly not when one considers the ungodly mess he inherited.

Successfully resolving the situations involving Brown and Horn won't cure everything, but it'll provide confidence among the fanbase that things are being done right.

It's been a long time since they could say that.