This is a brand new article series that I am starting called “If I Were a GM.” This series will be articles about things I would do if I was the general manager of NFL Teams and list out the perfect scenario that could play out. I’m going to go through each NFL team and highlight some offseason moves and draft picks that would set that respective team up for the future. All 32 NFL teams will be included in this series and the series will end before the 2019 NFL Draft. I’m going to be wheeling and dealing and I hope you guys enjoy the series.
The Carolina Panthers were enjoying a great season for the early part of 2018. The team was looking like it was headed to a playoff berth. Then Cam Newton got injured and nothing was the same. The offense sputtered into dump offs and screens as the team finished 7-9. If we can fix the offensive line and get Cam healthy, then we can once again threaten the playoffs.
What I have to work with: -1 million in cap space and 7 draft picks (Rounds 1, 2, 3 (2), 4, 5, and 6)
Notable Players: Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Luke Keuchly, Shaq Thompson, Kawaan Short, Dontari Poe.
Biggest Needs: DB, DL, OL, OLB
The Panthers are strapped for cash as they have a ton of money invested in their top talent. Releasing veterans Torrey Smith, Searcy, Cockrell, Wright, and Jansen can boost my cap to 7 million.
After releases: 7 million in cap space and 7 draft picks
The Panthers already made their moves in free agency, signing a pair of offensive lineman to keep Cam Newton upright. Their signings of Matt Paradis and Daryl Williams were spot on.
After free agency: 7 million in cap space and 7 draft picks
Round 1, Pick 16: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson-This might be the most obvious pick in the draft. The Panthers only had 35 sacks in 2018. Ferrell is a beast on the defensive line and fills a big need.
Round 2, Pick 15: Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington- Keeping Cam Newton healthy is the goal of 2019. Standing at 6’7 and 325 pounds, McGary certainly can hold his own. Adding him to the offensive line can improve this unit immensely.
Round 3, Pick 13: Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State- After losing Devin Funchess, the Panthers can use a big target to pair alongside D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, and Christian McCaffery. Butler is a 6’5 target with insane body control and catch radius. For Cam Newton, that is a welcoming target.
Trade: Panthers trade overall picks 100 and 115 to the Seahawks for overall pick 84
Round 3, Pick 20: Juan Thornhill, CB, Virginia- Trading my second 3rd rounder and my 4th rounder allows me to move up earlier in the third round to select Juan Thornhill. I have a desperate need for playmakers on my defense and Thornhill is a athletic ballhawk. He ran a 4.42 at the combine with a 44 inch vertical. He could be a starter in my secondary very soon.
Remaining 2 picks are used on depth pieces for OL and DT
The Panthers do not have much flexibility this offseason, but with some strategic moves, they can acquire some key pieces. The key for the Panthers is the NFL Draft. Adding players like Ferrell, McGary, Butler, and Thornhill can give them a much needed impact on both sides of the ball.
With a healthy Cam Newton, this team can go to the playoffs. The key for the Panthers is making sure Cam stays healthy but minimizing the risk for injury. Giving him a solid offensive line and defense is the best way to do so.