Despite losing their No. 1 wide receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, to a season-ending ACL injury, the Panthers aren’t in a hurry to sign a free agent or to acquire a wideout via trade. As David Newton of ESPN.com writes, the team isn’t currently shopping for a receiver, and isn’t looking at veteran free agent Reggie Wayne.
“We feel real good about who we have right now. We really do,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “We’ll see. We’ve got plenty of time. We’ve just got to be patient with them.”
With Benjamin, who topped 1,000 yards in his rookie season, no longer in the mix, the team will rely on a group that includes second-round rookie Devin Funchess, Corey Brown, Ted Ginn Jr., Jerricho Cotchery, and Jarrett Boykin. While there are some solid players in that group, it’s unlikely that any of them will match Benjamin’s production — it’s not even clear who would have been the team’s No. 2 receiver, prior to Benjamin’s injury.
For their part, some Panthers sources believe Funchess can step in and post numbers similar to what Benjamin did in his rookie year, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link), who also says that the team isn’t in the market for a veteran free agent, at least for now. It seems unlikely that the former Michigan wideout, who is currently battling a hamstring injury, will be that effective out of the gate, but he’ll be forced into a larger role than anticipated, and the Panthers appear confident he can handle it.
“We drafted Devin for a reason,” Rivera said. “You want to have a big, quality receiver, and Devin gives us that still.”
Newton, Cole, and Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer all suggest that the Panthers like their depth at wide receiver, so if the team does pursue an outside option, it figures to happen closer to the season, if an intriguing player becomes available during roster cutdowns.