The Carolina Panthers were seemingly having themselves a nice month of January.
Unfortunately, Luke Kuechly’s shocking retirement immediately after the end of the regular season changed the landscape here. Without their team leader and with Cam Newton likely headed out of town, the Panthers are in the midst of dramatic change.
It leads us to this theory. Is it time for the Panthers to tank for Trevor Lawrence?
The idea: It might seem a bit ridiculous on the surface. Give up on an entire season to target a quarterback in the draft one year later. But there’s certainly something to this. We will lay it out below.
The Matt Rhule impact: Baylor’s former head coach signed a seven-year contract to replace Ron Rivera in Carolina. It’s a long-term strategy.
- Carolina made sure that Rhule knew it was not expecting a quick fix when the team signed him to an absurd seven-year contract. Owner David Tepper is in it for the long haul.
- The idea here is to build up a foundation that was missing under former owner Jerry Richardson. That started in the front office, and it is now going to continue on the field.
- The expectation here is that Rhule will be given a mulligan for his first season or two, somewhat similar to what we saw with Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco.
- Does this mean a full-scale teardown to build back up? It’s more than likely, and it leads us to believe Tepper and Co. are in it for the long haul.
Cam Newton: Despite his injury issues, the Panthers could get something for Newton on the trade block.
- It goes without saying that this former NFL MVP has played his final game in a Panthers uniform. Newton suited up for two games this past season before suffering a Lisfranc injury.
- The Panthers have not come close to committing to the 30-year-old signal-caller. In fact, suggestions during the season were that former undrafted free agent Kyle Allen was the long-term solution.
- Given Allen’s struggles, that’s unlikely to be the case. However, Newton will be dealt in March. At the very least, that’s what the most recent reports from Carolina suggest.
- With quarterback-needy teams all up and down the NFL, the Panthers should be able to get a decent bounty for Newton in a trade. His smallish $21.1 million cap hit in 2020 adds more credence to this idea.
Luke Kuechly’s retirement: This shocking move has left a major leadership void throughout the Panthers’ roster.
- Not only was Kuechly one of the best defensive players in the NFL, he was right up there with Newton as the face of the franchise. A true leader if there ever was one.
- Sure the future Hall of Famer could return to the Panthers as a coach. In no way does that mean his on-field leadership won’t be missed. It will.
- Without Kuechly in the mix to both call plays and act as an inspirational figure, the expectation here is that Carolina’s defense is going to take a step back.
Trevor Lawrence: Generational talent. There’s no other way to go about it, the 2020 Heisman favorite is one of the most truly talented college prospect in a generation.
- Lawrence’s struggles in the National Championship Game didn’t seem to turn teams off. The Clemson product, who is only a sophomore, showed himself to be an elite talent.
- Lawrence has the frame, accuracy and arm that makes scouts drool. He added tremendous running ability to the mix this past season, something that is needed in today’s NFL.
- Barring a major injury or regression as a junior, Lawrence is the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Carolina won’t be the only team seriously considering tanking in 2020 for the Clemson star.
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Originally posted on Sportsnaut | By Vincent Frank | Last updated 1/25/20