The NFL regular season is done. The Carolina Panthers have already indicated that Steve Wilks was not coming back for the upcoming regular season with the hiring of Frank Reich. But the Panthers need to answer the biggest questions heading into the off-season, starting with Where does Carolina go from here?
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Where Do the Panthers Go From Here?
The NFL season is over. There are a lot of decisions to make heading into next season, especially after their loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Does Carolina re-sign Sam Darnold? Does Carolina trade up and draft a quarterback? How do the Panthers address the cornerback position? What does Carolina need to address during the draft?
Does Carolina Re-sign Sam Darnold?
At the beginning of the season, there was no way in hell Darnold was going to get resigned. But, with a head coaching change and a growing of the beard. Darnold has led this team to three wins in the last five games. He also had a 341-yard-three touchdown game in a loss to the Bucs. So, riding out two or three more seasons with Sam is not bad, especially if he is playing the way he has these past five weeks.
Do the Panthers Trade Up to Draft a Quarterback?
Carolina has the 9th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Chicago Bears and Houston Texans have the first and second overall picks. The Panthers should not trade because that would require Carolina to potentially give up the team’s first-round both their second-rounders, their third-round selection, and two-fourths for a quarterback that might end up being a huge bust. The safer option would be to stick with Matt Corral, who was selected in the third round of last year’s draft.
How Do the Panthers Address the Cornerback Position?
There are several ways Carolina can address the problem at the corner. The problem is with corner depth because we have arguably one of the best corners in the league in Jaycee Horn.
They can address this through the draft, which is loaded defensively, and pick a guy like Clark Phillip III out of Utah, or tap into the free-agent market and sign a guy like James Bradberry. The Panthers should do a mixture and get more than one because it has been shown we cannot rely on Keith Taylor and C.J. Henderson as starters, especially against guys like Mike Evans.
What Needs to Happen to Be Competitive in the Future?
The Panthers need to get a corner, whether in free agency or the draft. They need to re-sign Sam Darnold to be that safer option. Corral needs time to develop or get a guy like C.J. Stroud without trading away the farm to move up. Finally, Carolina needs to let Frank Reich hire and build the coaching staff his way without David Tepper’s meddling. One thing is for sure, to be a successful team, guys have to rally around him and buy into what he is saying and doing. If the team does all of this, they will be competitive in the upcoming regular season.
The Panthers are beginning to head in the right direction. Reich is a good hire and hopefully will bring in a great coaching staff. However, this off-season will be filled with many questions that new head coach Frank Reich and general manager Scott Fritterer will have to answer.
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