Scott Fitterer was named General Manager of the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night and he will be faced with several tough decisions during his first offseason on the job. Below, we breakdown a handful of those decisions and look at how Fitterer should approach each situation.
Is Teddy the guy?
Teddy Bridgewater had a fairly average season in his first year as the starting quarterback of the Carolina Panthers. Midway through the season, it looked as if he regressed and made more bad decisions with the football - almost as if he was pressing. Bridgewater is under contract for two more years, but if the Panthers want to cut ties with him after 2021, it will only eat up $5 million in dead cap. If he is released this offseason, it would be $20 million in dead cap. So really, there are only two realistic options: keep Teddy for at least one more season or find a trade partner (if there are any takers).
Personally, I don't think Bridgewater can be the face of the franchise for the Panthers but he can be a great mentor to a younger quarterback, which leads me to the next question.
Trade up in the draft?
Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Zach Wilson are all likely to be off the board by the time the Panthers pick at No. 8. If they want to get a franchise quarterback in this draft class, they need to trade up. I'm not a huge believer in Trey Lance and beyond him, I think there's a big drop in NFL potential.
If Scott Fitterer trades up, he has to be 100% certain he is making the right move. You don't want to give away several draft picks for someone that doesn't pan out. If either Fields or Wilson is still available at No. 5, you trade up. Heck, you may even want to give the New York Jets a call and see if they would be interested in swapping picks to climb up to No. 2. Obviously, that won't be enough to swing a deal but I'm sure the Jets will listen, especially if they believe in Sam Darnold.
Re-sign Taylor Moton or Curtis Samuel?
I've always been of the mindset that quality offensive linemen are more valuable and are harder to come by than quality wide receivers. Even if you let Samuel walk, it's not like the cupboard is bare in the receivers room. You still have two 1,000-yard receivers in DJ Moore and Robby Anderson who are more than capable of carrying the load.
Taylor Moton is the best right tackle in the NFL that no one knows about. He is more than deserving of a big contract, the Panthers just have to be willing to give it to him. Also, think of it like this: If you draft a quarterback in the first round, would you want him to have a solid offensive tackle and two quality receivers or three quality receivers and no reliable offensive tackle? For me, it's a pretty easy decision.
Re-sign Russell Okung or draft a young tackle?
I mentioned this in an article earlier in the week, but I just can't bring back an aging veteran that missed 11 games this past season. Remaining under the salary cap is going to be a challenge this season not only for the Panthers but all NFL teams. I don't see the value of bringing Okung back at an unreasonable price when you can draft a tackle in the early rounds.
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