|Buy or sell for the 2019 Carolina Panthers roster?|
|Major departures are ahead for franchise|
|Published Thursday, January 3, 2019|
|PHOTO | CURTIS WILSON|
|Carolina Panthers receiver D.J. Moore emerged as a viable big-play threat in his rookie season and made a case for their top wideout.|
The Carolina Panthers were one of the NFL’s best teams in 2018.
Then they weren’t.
A 6-2 start followed by a seven-game losing skid left Carolina 7-9 and outside the postseason tournament. They’ll get an early start on building a 2019 roster that includes a changing core of veterans and questions surrounding the health of franchise quarterback Cam Newton’s shoulder.
Coach Ron Rivera and general manager Marty Hurney are expected to return despite that late-season meltdown, and they’ll take up the task of deciding on whom to keep. But here’s what’s worth buying – or not – going forward.
Christian McCaffrey. The offense went through the second-year running back in 2018, and he responded with a record-setting effort.
McCaffrey rushed for more than 1,000 yards and caught more than 100 passes, making him the first Panther to do so. With Cam Newton’s throwing shoulder an issue, Carolina may have to lean on McCaffrey even more in 2019.
Eric Reid. Eyebrows were raised when Carolina signed the free safety a couple weeks into the season, considering the Panthers’ aversion to controversial figures during Jerry Richardson’s time as owner. But Colin Kaepernick’s activist brother-in-arms was a solid citizen with David Tepper’s franchise, providing a steady force at free safety on a team-friendly one-year bargain. The Panthers could do far worse than work out a long-term deal with the former Pro Bowler who is in the prime of his career.
D.J. Moore. It didn’t take the rookie receiver long to become Carolina’s top outside target. Moore checks all the boxes: Good hands, tight routes, speed, and toughness. He plays like Steve Smith, minus the combative personality.
Offensive line. Injury tore through this group early and it’s need of retooling. Center Ryan Kalil is retired, leaving Pro Bowl right guard Trai Turner the most decorated member of the unit.
Versatile Taylor Moton will likely earn a starting job at either tackle or guard position in 2019, and if right tackle Daryl Williams returns to health after missing the season (knee), the depth will improve.
Bottom line, though, is the Panthers need a left tackle via the draft or free agency to put this group on track. Opening day starter Matt Kalil, who signed as a free agent two years ago for $55 million, hasn’t done enough to justify that deal.
Devin Funchess. Can one man play his way out of a big payday any faster? Funchess opened the season looking to earn a contract as Carolina’s No. 1 receiver and ended it as a healthy scratch and a forgotten target. With D.J. Moore as the main man and Curtis Samuel emerging as a vertical threat, Carolina will likely spend big on line needs, so keeping Funchess isn’t a priority.
Dontari Poe. The Panthers didn’t get much productivity out of Poe, an free agent acquisition from Atlanta who was expected to create a run-stuffing wall at defensive tackle. That experiment failed miserably as Poe didn’t deliver on much and fellow tackle Kawann Short, who commanded a new contract after the 2017 season, fell off in terms of production.
Thomas Davis. Fourteen years are enough for one of the franchise’s most visible players.
Although he wants to plays in 2019, Davis took a step back in 2018, first by sitting four games for violating the NFL’s drug policy, then with subpar production on what once was the league’s best linebacker corps. Is Davis still capable of contributing? Perhaps, but the Panthers have younger options available.
Julius Peppers. The future hall of famer hasn’t announced his plans, but at 38 and with only four sacks in 2018, it’s time for the Panthers to move on. They need an elite edge rusher to pair with Mario Addison, so this is now a priority area.
Greg Olsen. Between foot injuries that limited his availability the last two seasons and rookie Ian Thomas’ rapid development in 2018, it’s time to pass the mantle.
|Greg Olson is still one of the most elite TE's when he's on the field. Thomas Davis is still a productive LB, but has already said he won't sign for least than he's already making, and would only be a one year deal. I think it's time to move on without Funchess he hasn't been the productive WR that lives up to standard for a new contract. Matt Kalil they have to keep him on the roster until I think May 15th, but then they need to cut him to get cap space. I'd say sign Eric Reid, but he's not going to sign for least than 9.75 million that's more than the panthers can take a hit on cap space without sacrificing on signing on other needed positions.|
|Posted on January 4, 2019|
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