After using the franchise tag to keep some of their big name players over the past few years, Marty Hurney and the Carolina Panthers decided to not tag this offseason, as the deadline to franchise a players has came and went earlier today. In season’s past the Cats have used the franchise tag to keep cornerstone players like center Ryan Kalil last season and then defensive end Julius Peppers and Jordan Gross in 2009 and 2008.
All in all though this isn’t to big of a deal for the Panthers. The team only has 10 free agents this offseason and the only one that could possibly warrant a franchise tag is tight end Jeremy Shockey and even that is probably a stretch.
However, the front office decided against it and if the Panthers want Shockey or any of their other free agents back they will have to do it the old fashion way, bidding against other teams. Outside of Shockey, the other nine free agents for the Panthers are quarterback Derek Anderson, offensive guard Geoff Hangartner, wide receiver Legedu Naanee and finally linebackers Antwan Applewhite, Dan Conner and Omar Gaither.
None of these players will make or break the Panthers season next year but looking at a glance it seems the Panthers will need to address the linebacker position. If everything goes as planned the team should be set at linebacker with the return of Jon Beason and Thomas Davis from injury and holdover James Anderson. But as we all know Davis can’t be counted on with his injury history and outisde of that depth is limited.
Connor has played well during stints as a starter the past few seasons but I could easily see him trying to go and find a starting job somewhere else.
Jordan Senn and Jason Williams showed some ability last season but neither are the type of guy you feel comfortable starting on an NFL defense. So the Panthers will most likely have to look into beefing up the linebacker position this offseason either through the draft or by picking up a few lower level free agents.