Panthers Links: Free Agents, Offseason

The Packers are officially in offseason mode, but their front office still needs a little time to adjust to a devastating loss to the Seahawks, blowing a 16-0 halftime lead and wasting a great defensive effort against Russell Wilson and company.

We will surely check in with them later on. For now, we’ll turn our focus to the Panthers – the team eliminated by the Seahawks a week ago (in far less dramatic fashion) – as their offseason is in full swing.

Here are some stories surrounding the Panthers 2014 season as they head into a very important offseason where they try to win the NFC South for a record-extending three straight years.

  • Head coach Ron Rivera might be disappointed in how the team’s season ended, but he is looking forward to taking the next step in 2015, writes Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer“I got off the airplane excited about it, when I had the opportunity to talk to the team, it really was about going forward more than anything else,” said Rivera. “I think if we can take a big step we can put ourselves in position to win the Super Bowl. We’re close. I think we can get even closer.”
  • Person also hands out some grades to position groups for the 2014 NFL. Among the positions that received awful grades are the offensive tackles, safeties, and special teams units. Those positions need to improve if the Panthers want to take that next step, and with Person giving the coaching staff a C grade, Rivera himself needs to be better next year.
  • The Charlotte Observer also puts together a list of the contract status for every Panthers player, including not only those under contract, but free agents (restricted, unrestricted, and exclusive rights) as well.
  • While Person is focused on some of the players the Panthers will look to retain, his colleague Jonathan Jones examines the free agent market at some of their positions of need. Assuming a few big name players re-sign with their current teams, the Panthers could realistically benefit from the additions of players like offensive tackle King Dunlap, cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Walter Thurmond, and safeties Nate Allen and Da’Norris Searcy. Jones also picks out four receivers the team should target in Randall Cobb, Cecil Shorts, Torrey Smith, and Dwayne Bowe.
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