One of several teams in the offseason that desperately need an upgrade at the quarterback position is the Carolina Panthers. Last season, the Panthers had three quarterbacks start at least one game for them (Sam Darnold, Cam Newton, and PJ Walker). Now, if you follow any diehard Carolina Panther fans on social media, you can tell that the fans are highly disappointed in this predicament.
For many people, including head coach Matt Rhule, they must get the quarterback position right by the start of the season. That statement is even more correct in Rhule’s case because there is heavy consideration that he will be fired either midway through or at the end of the season if he does not lead Carolina to playoff football this upcoming season. So, here are the three ideas or options for the Carolina Panthers to address the quarterback position this offseason.
Option 1: Sign a "Bridge" Quarterback
For those who are unaware of what a bridge quarterback is, a bridge quarterback is a guy that a team signs for one season to keep them afloat until they get a permanent option. If you ask a true Panthers fan, they will tell you that they do not want Sam Darnold as their first-string QB next season. Even though there are not a plethora of options on the free-agent market, the Panthers should explore a capable quarterback as a one-year rental.
There is little to no chance that the Panthers will be in the running for Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson. There have been rumors of Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins being on Carolina’s radar and there is the possibility of Carson Wentz or Jimmy Garoppolo being available at the right price. Due to the state of the Panthers’ offense right now, if desperation is in the air, a free agent like Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota would be available on a one-year "prove it" contract.
Option 2: Draft a QB
Thanks to the trade that brought Sam Darnold to Carolina from the New York Jets, the Carolina Panthers will only have one draft pick in the top 100 (Round 1, Pick 6). This pick has drawn a bit of controversy from the mock drafts. Either the Panthers get some much-needed OL help or they will get a cornerback to provide another option to a youth-centered secondary. One option that has been less talked about since the Senior Bowl is drafting a quarterback.
The 2022 QB draft class, in most experts" eyes, is not a strong one, but, as a quarterback-dependent team, any of the first-round quarterbacks would be a possible option for Carolina. Maybe Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis, or even Sam Howell would be viable first-round options for Rhule"s squad. If the Panthers use one of their Day-Three selections to address the QB position, Bailey Zappe, Aqeel Glass or Anthony Brown might be available on the board.
Option 3: Sam Darnold as Starter
Now, when you think about how the season ended last year, you would scoff at this option. Unfortunately, if all options have been exhausted, the Carolina Panthers would have to go with Sam Darnold as their starter. Moreover, PJ Walker and an undrafted free agent would complete the depth chart. With this option, you take Darnold’s fifth-year option and hope for the best. Concerning the NFC South next season, you might be able to make a run, but that depends on the offseason decisions that the 2015 NFC champions make.
Within the division, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be looking for a new quarterback after Tom Brady’s retirement. Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints are breaking in a new head coach and the Atlanta Falcons will be searching for Matt Ryan’s replacement.
Carolina would still struggle to catch up on its rivals. Therefore, the organization is likely hoping this will not turn out to be the scenario that the team has to go with in 2022.
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