There are not many players left from Dave Gettleman‘s run of drafts in Carolina; the Panthers continued to separate from their pre-Matt Rhule era Tuesday by cutting Kawann Short. But they do plan to retain a key piece drafted before Rhule’s arrival.
The Panthers plan to use their franchise tag on tackle Taylor Moton, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. Moton has worked as Carolina’s right tackle starter for three seasons, after originally coming to Charlotte as a second-round pick. Moton and the Panthers engaged in extension talks ahead of last season, but nothing has emerged on this front in months.
Offensive linemen are grouped together under the franchise tag formula, making tackle tags more palatable for teams. Despite Ronnie Stanley and David Bakhtiari raising the salary ceiling for edge protectors last year, the O-lineman tag is expected to come in at around $15MM. The salary cap’s uncertain status could make final figures elusive until the 11th hour. As of mid-February, the cap is expected to come in at around $180MM. CBS Sports’ Joel Corry slotted the O-line tag at $14.8MM but did so on a $175MM cap — the predetermined floor for 2021.
Pro Football Focus has graded Moton as a top-20 tackle in each of the past three years. He came in as a top-five right tackle in 2020, providing all the more reason for the Panthers to retain him. The Panthers are planning to pursue Deshaun Watson and will be linked to first-round quarterbacks with their No. 8 overall pick. With their left tackle situation uncertain, ensuring one of their edge blockers remains under contract will be critical for the 2021 season.
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