There's no doubt in my mind that it's time to enjoy the 'now'. It's
been five years since the team had postseason aspirations, and those
ended quickly - making it a legitimate eight years since a playoff win.
But, a small part of me has kept an eye on 2014. It's not hard - you
think about what might happen after this year, and you see a lot of WR
and DB that are not under contract. But as the Observer's piece this
morning reminds, the deal for Jordan Gross struck this past offseason
doesn't leave much room for the OL, either.
The team provided some relief by putting in voidable years to Gross'
contract, which appear to be voiding after the year. Good news? The
team can renegotiate that deal so it doesn't void, or so it voids a year
later. It appears Gross himself is more than willing to return, and
says he'll only play here.
Honestly, I don't see how they can do anything otherwise. It's not
that they couldn't, or shouldn't, put time and effort into the OL, and
with Gross entering year 12 next year it would be dumb to not have a
better backup plan. But Gross is playing at as high a level as ever.
He won't gain Pro Bowl credit for the year, almost certainly. But at
this point, profootballfocus.com has him as a top 5 player of all
tackles in pass protection. I don't think Carolina's going to find
The team has a similar choice with Travelle Wharton. Among the most
consistent players on offense, Wharton never receives the highest
grades, but the stability and experience brought should be valuable
again next year, and I hope they do. That casts maybe a little doubt on
Amini Silatolu, who has to work out well for the team to succeed long
term. Does that mean he goes to RG with the hundred other players they
have there? Maybe, maybe not. But I believe if you don't bring back
Wharton, at the low cost he received this year, you're starting over.
Either way, the OL needs some attention. Byron Bell has his
challenges, and his deep-set drops before he even contacts the DL leaves
a small pocket. The team does have to sort from amongst a legitimate
five starting RGs and more players who they wanted there but never made
it. There's room to make some change. I just hope they don't throw
away their left side so quickly.