As Carolina builds momentum in the second week of free agency (after sitting out week one), they seem to have their choice of what’s left. Certainly, the issues of pending free agents on the DB and WR groups last year caused some concern at the time and now.
To that end, without any consistency between those groups, I find it’s interesting that some young stars in the coaching staff have the ability to redesign their personnel groups.
Ricky Proehl inherited some talent, and that talent did its best. Now, Proehl and OC Mike Shula have the ability to completely redevelop what the team will look like at receiver. Tiquan Underwood and Jerricho Cotchery fill specific needs, and while they might not be all the Panthers do at the position, they’re definitely a departure from what’s been here.
Similarly, while Steve Wilks got some input in ’12 and ’13, when the team challenged some starters with cheap veterans like Haruki Nakamura or DJ Moore, and hit on the one year deals like Quintin Mikell and Mike Mitchell, he has some ability to really dial things in. Mitchell and Captain Munnerlyn, both who thrived under Wilks the way they haven’t with anyone else, chased paydays elsewhere. Wilks was able to help secure Antoine Cason for this year’s squad, and brought in thumping roleplayer Roman Harper to be this year’s attitude safety.
Both have room to improve – the defensive backfield most likely should find something at free safety, and you could put money on the team drafting a versatile WR that will have as much of a shot at being the focal point as anyone.
In the end, Dave Gettleman and Ron Rivera are the decision makers, the architects of this process. But don’t underestimate the input of these assistants as time goes along.