Carolina Panthers Eliminated: What’s Next Defense Edition
Tuesday I discussed what I thought Dave Gettleman and co. needed to do in the off season to get the Carolina Panthers back on track for a NFC South title next season, focusing solely on offense. Today is the day I tackle( pun intended) the defense.
Thinking about the Panthers I realized it is imperative that we are aggressive this off season. This is not the year to be a patchwork team, we have some vets who deserve for us to be as competitive as possible next year. I don’t think our front office will be lazy in the off season but father time is not on our side.
What is the Defense looking like?
A whole hell of a lot better than our offense. Gettleman hasn’t made it a secret he values linebackers, defensive ends, and tackles, the hog mollies. He has made great draft choices in those areas, but are we overstocked? Who do we keep? Kawann Short played this year without a signed contract extension. I think it was a good faith move by Short and I truly hope he doesn’t regret believing in this organization and it’s front office. Contract negotiations stalled with KK this summer and Gettleman indicated they would not take place during the season. Hopefully this didn’t alienate Mr. Short and once the season is over he and his agent can sit down at the table and iron a deal that is lucrative for himself and the team. If not he will test out the free agency waters or get franchised. The Panthers locked up Star Lotulelei last season so he’s locked in. The Panthers drafted DT Vernon Butler out of Louisiana Tech, but injuries have hampered his progression and the Panthers ability to gage his impact on the field.I would love for the Panthers to work out a deal with Short, especially since he earned less than Butler this season playing out his final year without an extension. Short didn’t have the Pro Bowl explosive year he had last year, but he finished the Falcons came with 5 tackles and a sack, he is worth the money. More than likely he will get a franchise tag and a payday of somewhere around 13.5 million to compensate for his low pay check (still higher than my free one) this past year. It’s beneficial for the team if we see Short in Panthers blue next year and mentoring Vernon Butler in training camp this summer…..one can only hope. Speaking of contracts…..
The Panthers need to resign monster DE Mario Addison to a long term contract. He has had a great year playing in 13 games recording 24 combines tackles, 8.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. He had some injuries this year but nothing that could possible hamper a long term deal. Charles Johnson is aging if he thinks he has gas in the tank that has and isn’t going to hurt the cap too much you have to keep him around, he’s proven he wants to be here and will work with the team and front office to stay here. If we make these moves we would have Addison, Ealy, Johnson, not to mention backup support from Soliai and Wes Horton. I feel really confident with the depth chart. Speaking of comfort
I am getting comfortable with our defensive backfield, but I ‘m not sleeping through the night. James Bradberry and Daryl Worley are no longer a concern too me, especially after Bradberry held Falcons Julio Jones to 4 receptions for 60 yards. They are learning, progressing, and recognizing where to make the big plays. Zach Sanchez is another story and being placed on IR in November Panther fans never got a chance to see what kind of player he could progress into. I’m curious what could come out of OTA’s with this young man.
Tre Boston was just placed on injured reserve with an undisclosed knee injury. He has been replaced with practice squad player Travell Dixon. Boston started 10 games this season and was a nice compliment to SS Kurt Coleman. Coleman is locked in signing a 3-year contract extension this past summer a good move he has been great assest to our team and in the community. Without knowing the extent of the injury on Boston, the safety position is thin. I think this is an area best addressed in the free agency. Not sure if the Panthers plan to resign Colin Jones, but if not a player like Michael Thomas out of Miami who won’t count too much against the salary cap, or Eric Berry, just joking a girl can dream though. Either way it’s about balance and finding compliments to Coleman.
Prayers and comfort to the family of special teams Coach Bruce DeHaven who passed away after a long bout with cancer.
Can we forgive Gano for the subpar kicking year? He missed some big game winners this season, hello Denver. It was a down year for kickers across the league, maybe some forgiveness can be found during the holiday season, but Graham I have my eye on you.
Our special teams could use some energy a small but important concern best addressed possibly in the draft this year.