Are the Carolina Panthers right to be so confident in their current wide receiver options after deciding not to pursue free-agent DeAndre Hopkins?
While the Carolina Panthers didn't show all that much interest in DeAndre Hopkins, it was something of a disappointment to many fans who wanted to see the All-Pro wide receiver make a return home. Looking at the money he eventually got from the Tennessee Titans, this acquisition would have gone against the grain compared to how the new regime has conducted business since Matt Rhule's departure.
Hopkins is talented, there's no getting away from that. But perhaps the Panthers rejecting any temptation to seriously consider the possibility of bringing him on board is evidence of their confidence in the team's current pass-catching options.
Do the Carolina Panthers have enough at WR in 2023?
It's been an offseason of multiple changes within the wide receiver room. D.J. Moore is no longer around after being sacrificed in the deal that landed Carolina the No. 1 overall pick and the chance to draft quarterback Bryce Young, so they are currently without a primary weapon capable of producing prolific numbers until further notice.
That's not to say someone cannot come to the fore and replace Moore as the No. 1 option. The favorite to take another leap is Terrace Marshall Jr., who suffered untold hardship under the incompetent previous regime and is now ready to show the world what he's truly capable of with increased responsibilities.
Jonathan Mingo is highly thought of by the Panthers. He also got recommendations from Young and Steve Smith Sr. before becoming Carolina's second-round selection, so there's nothing to suggest he cannot make a telling contribution as a rookie providing there are no complications during the one-time Ole Miss star's transition.
The Panthers acquired two dependable veterans - Adam Thielen and D.J. Chark - during the free-agent frenzy. This provides a nice combination of getting open quickly (Thielen) and stretching the field (Chark) that can assist at a time when consistency is desperately needed.
Couple this with the gadget versatility of Laviska Shenault Jr. within Frank Reich and Thomas Brown's creative scheme, it's not hard to see why the Panthers' brass are so bullish. But are they right to have so much faith in this group?
While the likes of Thelen and to a lesser extent Chark have proven credentials, it's a trip into the unknown for Carolina with others. This bears more significance for Mingo and Marshall, who've yet to handle prominent targets throughout their fledgling careers - even if the athletic gifts are there for all to see.
Having such an accomplished coaching staff is another thing this group has working in their favor. Reich and Brown will know exactly how to maximize the tools at their disposal and even though there might not be a 1,000-yard receiver in the group, all have the scope to put up decent numbers if Young gets them the football consistently.
One would expect Thielen, Chark, and Marshall to start in Week 1. Mingo will be used as the wildcard No. 4 option until proven otherwise, with Shenault being deployed all over the field depending on where the mismatches could arise.
As previously stated, not many are holding out hope for Carolina's wideouts in 2023. But upon further examination, they might just surprise a few.