In 2013, the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton did something that they have not been able to do in their previous two seasons. Make the playoffs. In a division with Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, Cam Newton was the one who came out on top as the division winner.
The Panthers 2013 season was such a success due to a top-notch defense and the emergence of Cam Newton as more than just an athletic guy playing quarterback, but a player developing and finally understanding what it takes to be a leader on the field.
But, if you take a closer look at the “experts” in Las Vegas, you see that they aren’t overly impressed with the Panthers heading into the 2014 season. You would figure a team coming off a 12-4 season would command at least a 10 win over/under in Vegas, right? Well they are sitting around 8.5 right now. If you are into making those type of calls, you might want to check out the guide for everything on football betting, and maybe wind up with a little extra coin in your pocket.
The Panthers didn’t exactly posses the most productive wide receiver corps in the NFL last season. The top three WR’s on the depth chart, Steve Smith (64), Brandon LaFell (49), and Tedd Ginn Jr. (36), all have new homes for the 2014 season. Smith, a life long Panther and borderline Hall Of Famer, was cut as the end of the season and is now a member for the Baltimore Ravens. Brandon LaFell has left via free agency to join Tom Brady and the New England Panthers along with Ted Ginn Jr., who went to the Arizona Cardinals.
Newton’s only remaining target is tight end Gregg Olsen, who lead the team in receptions with 73. I’m not sure how a quarterback who took such a big step forward as to set career highs in TD passes (24) and completion percentage (61.7%) is supposed to continue improving when you take away his top three wide receivers.
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman spent a first round draft pick on Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin, a 6-5 WR who can hopefully blossom into a big red zone target. Building around a huge WR like Benjamin is a good foundation for a WR corps, but the rest of the guys are just old or not very good. Jericho Cotchery is a very nice number 3/4 WR who can be relied upon for some 3rd down conversions, but right now he’s listed as the number one guy. Behind Cotchery and Benjamin you have Jason Avant and Tiquan Underwood. What a recipe for disaster.
Newton’s fifth year option was picked up a few weeks ago, assuring that he would be a Panther through at least 2015. After then, the Panthers can still franchise him for 2016. If I were Cam Newton, I would be scratching my head as to what the hell is going on here. This situation actually reminds me a lot of what happened to Mark Sanchez in New York. How did that turn out?