It’s that time of year again. Here are three burning questions for the Carolina Panthers.
Will Teddy Bridgewater relish in his second chance as a starter?
After filling in nicely for the Saints last season after Drew Brees went down for about a month with an injury, Bridgewater was a highly-touted free agent at season’s end. The former Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback went a perfect 5-0 in Brees’s absence. He amassed 1,384 yards passing and threw for nine touchdowns with just two interceptions.
The Panthers also loaded Bridgewater with improved receiving options such as former Jets receier Robby Anderson, ex-Raven Seth Roberts, and former Cardinal Pharoah Cooper. They will join the likes of DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel as weapons at Bridgewater’s disposal
How will the latest running back to get paid perform?
It’s no surprise to anyone that the Panthers extended Christian McCaffrey as he has more than earned every penny of his new deal. For the better part of the last two seasons, the team went as far as McCaffrey could take them, especially after Cam Newton was sidelined for the last three quarters of the season.
McCaffrey was his usual effective self up until the point that teams had seen enough film on backup quarterback Kyle Allen to concentrate more of their defensive efforts into stopping the third-year back. Still, he ended the season with just under 1,400 yards on the ground and added just over 1,000 yards receiving, combining for 19 total touchdowns.
How much will the defense miss Luke Kuechly?
While Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey were the faces of this franchise offensively, Luke Kuechly was their defensive equivalent. The eight-year veteran shocked just about everyone when he announced his retirement shortly after the season concluded.
The seven-time Pro Bowl selection and five-time First Team All-Pro amassed 18 interceptions, 12.5 quarterback sacks, and over 1,000 career tackles. He led the league in tackles twice, including in his rookie season.
It’s going to be a tough task for this defense without Kuechly, but the saving grace will be that the offense on paper looks like it will be able to put up points in such an effective manner that it can overshadow the weak links on defense.