Ryan Kalil, Deangelo Williams, and Charles Johnson are all sought for new contracts by the Carolina Panthers. They're all pending free agents, and there's a stated plan to bring them all back. But plans always require contingency.
Johnson's departure would have them keep Tyler Brayton (who went from a solid all-around player, to preseason sack-stud, to creating no regular season pressure at all), who they might otherwise cut or reduce his role. Greg Hardy and Everette Brown are OK young pass rushers who should grow, but it might force them to take a similar player to Johnson in Daquan Bowers, who may not fit as well in the new defense (which zone blitzes a lot, leaving the need for athleticism). Bowers is exceptionally talented at playing end but not a dominant rusher. The other options would decline from there, and turn a
There's no reason to think Kalil won't be here. As franchise player, he's guaranteed to be here unless he holds out (and he definitely won't), or is traded (he won't be). But the options narrow quickly without him - Mackenzie Bernadeau is a modestly experienced center that's struggled everywhere but LG. Veteran options exist, but Kalil would've been the top FA. It's quickly apparent when looking at other options, why Kalil was the tagged player.
Williams' contingency is obvious and apparent as well - Jon Stewart, Mike Goodson, and Tyrell Sutton can all be solid. Josh Vaughn is a step down, but they like him, too. Vaughn is not Williams, but for a team that wants to throw more, the 4th best back doesn't have to be the critical piece.