The Carolina Panthers may be nearing a serious turning point in the direction of the franchise. Ron Rivera has been fired and Cam Newton’s future with the team is in limbo. It appears like a rebuild is looming after a 5-11 finish to the season.
Newton dealt with a plethora of injuries throughout 2019 before being shut down for the year. His previously existing issues with his throwing shoulder and foot fracture proved to be too much for the 2015 league MVP to handle. It’s unclear whether Newton will be able to play at an elite level anytime soon because of his unfortunate string of health problems, but one thing is for certain. Carolina has an absolute stud at running back in Christian McCaffrey, so he should be the focal point of the offense moving forward. However, question marks at other positions must be addressed in order for Carolina to field a complete team in 2020.
The Panthers should be exploring how to upgrade their defense up front and in the secondary this offseason. Although Carolina leads the NFL in sacks (49) this year, they are a bottom three team against the run and have forked up 1,963 yards on the ground. A defensive tackle who can stop the run would certainly suit this team well. Defensive backs James Bradberry and Ross Cockrell are both entering free agency. Failing to re-sign or replace these two could turn a middle-of-the-road secondary into a mess.
Carolina shouldn’t necessarily hit the panic button over its quarterback situation, but if it decides to move Newton in trade, securing an insurance policy to back up Kyle Allen is probably a good idea.
The 2019 NFL season is coming to a close and while the playoffs are just arriving, it’s time to start looking ahead to 2020. We won’t know the full regular season schedule until April, but even with the 2019 season not finished, we know each team’s list of opponents. The NFL has a formula they use to determine opponents, with divisions and conferences rotating each year.
The Panthers face their divisional opponents a total of six times. The NFC South faces the NFC North, which adds four more opponents. The NFC South faces the AFC West, which adds four more opponents. The final two opponents are the teams that finish in the same standing position in the NFC East and NFC West.
Home: Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Bears
Away: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Green Bay Packers, Washington, Atlanta Falcons