Recently, I wrote about the top five weaknesses in the Panthers’ organization. Now, it’s time to address those weaknesses and determine how those weaknesses can be resolved.
As stated in the mentioned article, this is a sore subject. Kalil is a costly cut, but Carolina cannot continue to pay this man while he’s injured, which seems to be more often than not. They must take into consideration the fact that he spent practically the entire 2018 season getting paid to nurse a knee injury while on the injured reserve. If they can make it work financially, signing either Chris Clark or Marshall Newhouse is an answer worth exploring for Carolina, as they both covered this position in 2018 and neither are under contract.
The Retirement of Julius Peppers
To replace Peppers will be a challenge, and of course it will need to be addressed through the current roster, free agency or the upcoming draft. The first person that comes to mind is Mario Addison, who is currently under a three-year contract worth $22.5 million and will become a free agent in 2020. Towards the end of the 2018 season, Carolina converted $2.5 million of his base salary into a signing bonus, freeing up $2 million in much-needed cap space.
Addison is a solid choice to start in this position, but at 31 years old, Carolina should definitely address this position in the draft for the future. Not everyone has the ability and stamina to play as long as Peppers did. The top three in the draft are Nick Bosa (Ohio State), Clelin Ferrell (Clemson) and Zack Allen (Boston College). If Carolina can secure one of these top edge rushers, it would greatly improve the Carolina defense.
Carolina’s current need for this position is possibly already in place, depending on the decision of the top brass coming into the 2019 season. If they choose to allow Newton to take next season off (it worked for Andrew Luck), they may need to pick up a quarterback that possesses the same qualities as Newton does as a dual-threat player, and preferably with the size and strength that Newton has, too. That would prove difficult as this isn’t as common as a pass-first quarterback is in this pass-first league.
If necessary, drafting a dual-threat quarterback could work if Carolina takes a look at Jacob Dolegala out Central Connecticut State. He is projected to be drafted in the fourth or fifth round and that would allow Carolina to address other issues and address this one as well. He may be a good candidate regardless of the decision made for Newton. Dolegala stands at 6-foot-6 and weighs in at 235 pounds, and has decent stats. There are others available with better stats, but they all lack the size needed to replace Newton and with his draft projection, Dolegala may be the answer to the question that Carolina has right now.
Addressing the situation with Matt Kalil is part of the solution here. Another issue is replacing his brother and most recent team center, Ryan Kalil, who retired at the end of the 2018 season. Looking into prospects, Elgton Jenkins out of Mississippi State is projected to be drafted in the second round. He’s a big guy who is fast and productive. With the second-round projection, that will still free up the first round for more pressing needs for the team.