Carolina Panthers – Projected Cap Space: $54.9M
Upcoming Free Agents:
*RB Fozzy Whitaker *WR Brenton Bersin
*WR Corey Brown WR Ted Ginn Jr.
OT Mike Remmers *OG Andrew Norwell
OG Chris Scott C Ryan Wendell
DT Kyle Love DT Kawann Short
DE Mario Addison DE Charles Johnson
*DE Wes Horton LB Ben Jacobs
LB A.J. Klein CB Leonard Johnson
CB Teddy Williams *CB Louis Young
FS Colin Jones FS Michael Griffin
With more than $50 million in cap space the Panthers still have the youthful talent to re-build their Super Bowl aspirations and the money to make a splash in free-agency.
When the doors open I’d expect some big-name targets as this team looks to re-open a window which some see as nailed shut after nearly winning it all just a season ago.
Thomas Davis will need his team’s leadership to figure out the puzzle if he’s going to get a ring before he retires, and it’ll all start with who they keep, and who they let walk.
MUST KEEP – DT, Kawann Short
He didn’t have the same year he did last season; but then who in Carolina did?
MOST EXPENDABLE – DE, Charles Johnson
Before Panthers fans come at me with pitch forks and knives, understand this is based off his market value and the fact he’s 30-years old and is looking for his last payday before retiring.
Bottom line is the front line has some depth and youth, and they need to get talent at other positions more than they need to keep Johnson.
If Kony Ealy can build off what he’s shown early-on then they’ll be much wiser to spend the money they would here on him next season.
MOST LIKELY TO JOIN A RIVAL – WR, Ted Ginn Jr.
If this speedster doesn’t take a hometown discount to stay in Carolina then there’ll be a couple of NFC South teams who could swoop in during free-agency to add him to their arsenal.
Ginn isn’t a number one receiver and truth be told he’s probably not a number two. What he is, is a straight-line specialist who can turn a fly route into points, open the defense, run a jet sweep with the best of them and instantly improves any team’s special teams play.
The 10-year veteran looks as fast as ever, and if the Panthers can’t keep him, they may end up facing him.
Free-agency is two months away, and there’s no doubting the impact it will have on what happens in 2017 for the NFC South.
What we’ve covered today are just a few names who will help shape the divisional race next season, but they aren’t the only ones.
It’s hard to understate the impact Alex Mack had on the Falcons by giving Matt Ryan time to throw for nearly 5,000 yards; the improvements Brent Grimes and Robert Ayers ushered into the Buccaneers defense; how much more the Saints defense would have struggled without Nick Fairley’s 6.5 sacks; or what the loss of Josh Norman did to the Panthers secondary.
Which players do you see as indispensable for your team, and which do you see as a guy the roster could do without? Sound off below in the comments or look me up on Twitter with your thoughts!