What’s next now that Teddy Bridgewater has joined the Panthers?

Now that the Panthers have signed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, what's next for their 2020 offseason?

The Carolina Panthers made some major changes this offseason. They fired two-time Coach of the Year and longtime head coach Ron Rivera, replacing him with uber-successful college coach Matt Rhule. The Panthers also replaced former NFL MVP and franchise quarterback Cam Netwon with former Vikings and Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The roster is currently undergoing a major retooling, but Coach Rhule has a vision, and he’s intent on forming his roster in that vision.

Free Agency

The Panthers so far have taken a bit of a step back, as far as their roster goes. They traded guard Trai Turner for tackle Russell Okung, though many view Turner as the better player. They also outright released Eric Reid and special teams star Collin Jones, along with choosing to decline the option of Dontari Poe. Other starters to leave the Panthers are James Bradberry, Mario Addison, and Gerald McCoy. Role player Vernon Butler also signed elsewhere. They did bring back free safety Tre Boston on a three-year deal, but aside from he and Bridgewater, the Panthers haven’t brought in any free agents that project as starters or even meaningful depth players.

As the first phase of free agency starts to wind down, phase two is about to begin. This is where the Panthers should start to make their moves. They have massive needs on both the offensive and defensive interior. Free agents like Andrus Peat and Ndamukong Suh could fill those holes well. The Panthers also have multiple holes in the secondary. After losing James Bradberry and Eric Reid, they need a new CB2 and strong safety. Vonn Bell and Xavier Rhodes could be intriguing options for Coach Rhule. They should also look into re-signing guard Greg Van Roten. It has been rumored they offered him a three-year deal, but he still remains on the open market.

Moving Cam Newton

It has become increasingly obvious that head coach Matt Rhule doesn’t have an interest in retaining quarterback Cam Newton. Despite rumors earlier that Newton would be the team’s starting quarterback, the Panthers signed Bridgewater to a three-year, $63 million deal. What they must do next is move Newton. Whether it’s a trade or just releasing him, Newton must be moved as soon as possible. This would provide additional cap space as they attempt to retool the roster. Freeing up almost $20 million could be pivotal, as it could lead to the addition of multiple starters or role players. By letting the leftover cap space rollover to next offseason, they could be primed for a major free agency in the second year for coach Rhule.

2020 NFL Draft

The Panthers pick seventh overall, meaning they could have a chance to select one of the elite defensive players I expect to fall to them. They should be given the opportunity to select one of Jeffrey Okudah, Derrick Brown, or Isaiah Simmons — all players that play a position of major need for the Panthers. For the rest of the NFL Draft, expect the Panthers to target culture changers and leaders, as Rhule looks to start his era off correctly. I’d also expect them to target a number of his former Baylor players such as James Lynch, Denzel Mims, and Bravvion Roy. They are also likely to target former LSU players, specifically offensive players who played under new offensive coordinator Joe Brady.

Overview

The Panthers are currently going through a major roster re-shuffling, one that so far hasn’t netted many positives. However, Rhule has a vision that vision should lead to wins. He did it at Temple, he did it at Baylor, and it’s why he was named the head coach of the Panthers. It may take some time, and the Panthers might not be a great team next year, but if they can create this roster in the way Rhule envisions, they could be a contending team as soon as Rhule’s second season.

Listen to the PFN Scouting Podcast

Listen to the PFN Scouting Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Scouting Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Scouting Podcast on our Scouting YouTube channel.

Related Articles