2020 Carolina Panthers team situation
Panthers salary cap situation for 2020
The Carolina Panthers have $12 million left in cap space, meaning the Panthers will not have room for a potential trade for a high profile player. After an offseason of turn over, the Panthers have the most dead money in the NFL with $42,884,593 (per Overthecap.com).
Leading in dead money for the Panthers is Matt Kalil ($9.8 million) and Trai Turner ($9.6 million) followed by 11 additional players. On that list of additional players are Eric Reid, Luke Kuechly, Greg Olsen and Cam Newton, all veteran impact players that were on the roster last season.
Carolina Panthers roster needs in 2020
After an offseason with many releases and a surprising retirement, the Panthers have plenty of needs on both sides of the football. The offensive line is a continuous need with Taylor Moton seemingly being the only future piece on the team. The tight end position is also one of need, with Ian Thomas as the starter heading into his third season while starting only nine total games out of a possibly 32 so far.
As for the defense, most positions can use upgrades. The Panthers recently signed Tahir Whitehead to help the linebacker room, which still leaves a hole for another player to play alongside him and Shaq Thompson. As for the secondary, another cornerback would help the team as well as another safety to play alongside Tre Boston.
Potential Trade partner: New England Patriots
J.C. Jackson – CB (2020 cap hit: $753,334)
With the Panthers needing help in the secondary and recently going younger, J.C. Jackson could be a massive acquisition. Jackson at age 24 is an undrafted player heading into his third season with the New England Patriots. The Patriots have a crowded secondary where Jackson is the potential fourth-best cornerback on the roster. Jackson, if traded to the Panthers, would immediately be the number one corner for the team. Ranking last season #43 out of 115 of cornerbacks with a defensive grade of 68.2 (grades by Pro Football Focus).
The top corners for the Panthers on their roster currently are Donte Jackson who ranked 89th and Eli Apple who ranked 63rd. The Panthers need the help, and the Patriots could be willing to part ways with an undrafted player for a future draft pick in return.
Potential Trade partner: Cleveland Browns
David Njoku – TE (2020 cap hit: $3,030,791)
The Cleveland Browns signed Austin Hooper this offseason to be the tight end of the future. Leaving David Njoku, the Browns former first round pick, to wonder what his role is. Reports have came out after the signing that Njoku has made it clear he would like to be traded. Njoku can come in and be an immediate impact player in Carolina.
Current starter Ian Thomas was considered a raw prospect when drafted in the fourth round by the Panthers in 2018. While he continues to develop, the Panthers could look to another player for this year to compete for the job. With Njoku’s cap hit at just over $3 million, the Panthers can take a chance on him with a contract close to expiring.
Potential Trade partner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
O.J. Howard – TE (2020 cap hit: $3,530,182)
The Carolina Panthers division rivals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, made colossal acquisitions this offseason. They acquired Rob Gronkowski from the Patriots after signing Tom Brady, leaving O.J. Howard as a possible third-string tight end on the team behind Cameron Brate and Gronkowski. Howard is only 25 and has tremendous upside after being the first tight end taken in the first round of the 2017 draft.
Howard is similar to Njoku, both being drafted in the first round of the 2017 draft. Not producing the way their teams would have liked, their organizations have gone in a different direction this past offseason. The Panthers can take advantage and trade for either at a cheap price. This gives the Panthers a low risk, high reward type of deal before the season starts.
Potential Trade partner: Arizona Cardinals
Haason Reddick – OLB (2020 cap hit:$4,288,509)
Haason Reddick is another former 2017 first round pick the Panthers can target. Reddick is a speedy linebacker who can play alongside Shaq Thompson and Tahir Whitehead. Given the chance, Reddick can become the player the Arizona Cardinals wished he was. What better situation for Reddick than to play for his former college coach Matt Rhule. With the familiarity, Rhule can get Reddick playing at a high level again that made him a first round pick.
Reddick has not had a bad career in his first three seasons. Available for all 48 games, he started 20 of those games, with 12 starts in 2018. After starting less than half as many games in 2019 than 2018, Reddick was not far off from matching his stats. He finished 2018 with 80 combined tackles on 12 starts, recording 53 solo tackles and 27 assisted tackles. In 2019, Reddick started only five games and ended the season with 43 solo, 33 assisted and 76 combined tackles. In conclusion, the production is there and on an upward trend, the opportunity with the Cardinals is just not there.
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