The Panthers will be an intriguing team to watch in next week’s draft, considering the club lost a handful of notable contributors this offseason to retirement or free agency. A good or bad draft could be the difference between Carolina continuing to build on last year’s success or falling back to the middle of the pack in the NFC. Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer has a number of notes on the team, including several tidbits from general manager Dave Gettleman. Let’s check out the highlights (all links go to Person’s Twitter)….
- May 2 is the deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets, so resolution on tackle Byron Bell‘s contract situation should be coming soon. The Panthers tendered Bell at the second-round level ($2.187MM), but could lock him up to a longer-term deal.
- While the Panthers brought in 26 players for pre-draft visits, the team’s draft board is “not even remotely closed to being finished,” according to Gettleman.
- Gettleman identified left tackle and wide receiver as two of the Panthers’ top needs heading into the draft, and raved about the depth of those positions in this year’s draft class. The GM has given nine or 10 wideouts and offensive tackles first-round grades.
- Gettleman also indicated that cornerback is a position of need for the team.
- Despite the fact that it’s not one of the team’s top areas of focus, if there’s an impact defensive tackle or end available, the Panthers won’t shy away from drafting that player, says Gettleman.
- Noting that one of the main takeaways of Gettleman’s comments was how much he loves the receivers in this draft, Person points out that the Panthers’ offseason has been shaped by that fact. If the club thinks it can land a solid wideout or two in the draft, its decision to let its top four 2013 receivers walk makes more sense.