After finishing the 2017 season 11-5, and losing in the wildcard playoff game, the Panthers created room for improvement.
Starting off big, one of the first transactions in the NFL offseason was a trade that impacts the wide receiving corp.
In exchange for one of their corners (Daryl Worley), the Panthers traded with Super Bowl Champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, for one of their top receivers, Torrey Smith.
Smith is a two time Super Bowl champion and 7 year veteran in the NFL. He will bring his experience and extraordinary hands to give the Panthers a sigh of relief, someone to be trusted to catch the ball.
Meanwhile, the Panthers took certain measures to ensure some of their key players would return.
Take Graham Gano, the team’s kicker since the 2012 season. Gano has a reputation of being a reliable kicker as he has made multiple game winning kicks.
For example, here is a field goal that boosted the Panthers a win over the then defending Super Bowl Champions, The New England Patriots. (Click here)
Greg Olsen, a mainstay for the Panthers since 2011, has decided to stay with the team once more. The tight end touchdown machine re-signed for a two year contract.
Though he’s getting older, Olsen remains a staple of the Panthers offense. Olsen is one of the biggest and best deep threats in the NFL.. Olsen has shown his fanbase time after time he can catch when needed.
Next, the Panthers re-signed their defensive end, Julius Peppers. Entering his 17th season, Peppers presence on the defensive line greatly contributed to the success of the defense as a whole.
Peppers finished the 2017 season with 11 sacks, the most in a single season he’s had in the past 5 seasons. Though his age becomes a factor–turning 38 earlier this year–Peppers continues to be one of the most explosive players off the line at each snap. The Panthers resigning him was a steal.
Although not the last person resigned, Damiere Byrd’s NFL journey continued with a signed tender through the 2018 season. Byrd came off the practice squad in order to replace a injured receiving corp.
Scoring two touchdowns in the 2017 season, the speedster looked primed for a great performance in the rest of the season/postseason. However, Byrd was injured and placed on the IR for the rest of the season.
Byrd gets another chance to shine with the Panthers on the roster, and if healthy, is sure to be a short pass threat across the middle of the field often.
Meanwhile, the Panthers wasted no time going after their needs in the 2018 NFL Draft. With the 24th pick overall in the first round, Carolina selected DJ Moore, one of the top receivers available.
While playing for Maryland University, Moore scored 17 touchdowns and caught over 140 footballs during his career. His speed gets him open on route running faster, which in turn creates scoring opportunities.
For their second round pick, the Panthers selected a cornerback, Donte Jackson to improve a fast secondary. Jackson’s speed, hands down, is the best thing the Panthers franchise can capture at the moment — Jackson can be used as an advantage by Carolina to create turnovers.
With old threats returning and new dangerous threats developing, the Panthers may have just enough of what it takes to return to the playoffs.