Time is of the essence as Carolina Panthers embrace investment transition

The times are changing in Carolina.

Dan Morgan
Dan Morgan / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Time is of the essence as the Carolina Panthers embark on an investment transition under general manager Dan Morgan and the new regime.

Dan Morgan and the Carolina Panthers are implementing changes. Some might not like it, but this is what those in power believe is the best thing to finally bring stability to a franchise on its knees.

Free agency saw two prominent offensive linemen come into the fold. Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis cost a pretty penny - but good players seldom come for cheap unless there is baggage attached. While that's an undoubted positive that will help quarterback Bryce Young, it seemingly came at the expense of defensive firepower.

Morgan and Brandt Tilis inherited a big mess. They are on damage limitation until further notice. Tough decisions are being made to ensure long-term financial flexibility. It'll sting in the short term, but fans can thank the incompetent previous regime for that.

Carolina Panthers need their rebuild to be quick

Carolina is transferring its investment from defense to the offensive side of the football. Donte Jackson, Vonn Bell, Frankie Luvu, Yetur Gross-Matos, and Brian Burns won't be around in 2024. Ejiro Evero's once-promising unit has been decimated. That's without counting the plethora of free agents led by Jeremy Chinn who might not return.

The Carolina Panthers have an urgent need to maximize Bryce Young's rookie deal.
Bryce Young / Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers are rebuilding at long last. But time is of the essence.

Young is already one year into his rookie deal. He's got two seasons left before he becomes extension-eligible. Three before things get more difficult contractually. If those in power don't figure things out quickly, it's not hard to see where the complications could emerge.

Morgan will make more signings. He has to - even if this isn't exactly the most attractive destination after two more established figures left. Canales is not planning for the Panthers to be among the bottom feeders for much longer, either. But it's hard to look at the decisions made since both assumed positions of power and not think it's going to take time.

The Panthers don't have much of that if they want to maximize Young's contract. Tilis is taking tough measures to provide a sense of respectability to the football operation that's been sorely lacking. The short-term financial hits Carolina is willing to take will help in the long run. That doesn't exactly inspire confidence that better days are ahead in 2024.

One could argue that this rebuild has been a long time coming. Matt Rhule should have done it in 2020 instead of trying to paper over the cracks. Frank Reich had bigger plans, but that was probably down to the urgency surrounding previous general manager Scott Fitterer to get things right with his job hanging in the balance.

Four years later, here we are. The Panthers are a complete mess being perceived as a running joke among the national media. Nothing new there considering how things have unfolded under team owner David Tepper, but the only way is up.

Or so we hope.

Rebuilding is the only way, even if it means further struggles. That said, the quicker Morgan's grand plan for growth starts paying dividends, the better. Especially if Young becomes the franchise-caliber quarterback the Panthers envisaged when they gave up so much to take him at No. 1 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Time will tell on that one.