DJ Moore Jersey

We all know Carolina Panthers wideout D.J. Moore possesses a ton of talent. We saw it first-hand on the field in 2018 as the rookie made leaping catches, quick cuts, and showcased his speed. I personally believe that he will be extremely successful in 2019. It’s one thing to take my opinion at face value. However, when Arizona Cardinals wideout and former Pittsburgh Panthers great Larry Fitzgerald says something, you have to take notice.

Fitzgerald in his own right has had a great career. Just last season at the age of 35, Fitzgerald caught 69 passes for 734 yards and six touchdowns. Averaging 10.6 yards per catch, a 37-yard grab was his longest of the season. Although those statistics may not be impressive, the fact that Fitzgerald is still balling at the age of 35 is impressive. In my humble opinion, he has been one of the most consistent wide receivers in the game year in and year out.

Moore certainly gave the Carolina Panthers and their fans a nice preview of what may be to come. He caught 55 passes for 788 yards and two touchdowns. He certainly made general manager Marty Hurney look good as drafting a wide receiver with a first-round pick is considered risky in most football circles. However, it was no secret that the Carolina Panthers needed a big-play weapon, and they got one.

The fact that Fitzgerald recognizes Moore could be a tremendous player and that he is in line for a big second year makes me very excited. It’s not too often that a surefire Hall of Famer offers such high praise like this. At the very least, maybe the rest of the league will begin to take notice. With all the successful rookies that entered the league in 2018, I feel like Moore flew under the radar a little bit. That is not necessarily a bad thing. It allowed him to get his feet under him in relative peace. However, now the league is beginning to take notice.

Fitzgerald’s comments certainly carry a lot of weight to them as the offseason continues. I’m very excited to see what Moore will be able to do in the preseason minicamps which are only a couple months away. Hopefully, he does not suffer a sophomore slump. With the departure of Devin Funchess, he and Curtis Samuel need to make a concerted effort to step up and be the impact playmakers for the offense.

Greg Olsen Jersey

According to a report by Andrew Marchand at the New York Post, Panthers tight end Greg Olsen has been offered analyst positions by ESPN and Fox.

Marchand’s report also states that CBS met with Olsen but has not made an offer.
“Olsen, the Carolina Panthers tight end, is deciding if he should continue to play or begin a career in broadcasting,” Marchand wrote. “Both Fox and ESPN have made offers to him, sources have told The Post, in an effort to lure him off the field as an analyst.”

Olsen has some solid experience as a TV analyst, most recently commentating on the divisional-round playoff game between the Saints and the Eagles. He received good reviews for his work in that contest and generally has earned nothing but praise for his on-camera analysis.

Then again, Olsen can earn a lot more on the field than off of it. Carolina still has him under contract for another two years. His base salary for those seasons is a total of $8.5 million.

The question for Olsen is whether he’s ready to retire. He didn’t miss a single game from 2008-2016 but he’s suffered foot injuries in consecutive years, forcing him to the sideline for 16 games.
Olsen’s production has also dropped off a cliff. Once considered one of the elite tight ends in the NFL, he has posted fewer than 500 receiving yards and scored five touchdowns in his last 16 games. He’s become less consistent as well. While his catch rate was a career-high 71.1 percent in 2018, it was a career-low 44.7 percent the year before.

If Olsen can get healthy and back into a rhythm with Cam Newton, he might still be able to post 1,000 yards in a single season. That’s a big if, though.

Kawann Short Jersey

While general manager Marty Hurney has done a commendable job thus far in free agency shoring up the Panthers weak spots, there is one player from Carolina’s 2018 roster who is still a free agent and should probably be brought back into the fold. That man — and that marvelous belly — is defensive tackle Kyle Love.

The Panthers defensive tackle situation today is less than ideal. Kawann Short is a beast and coming off his second Pro Bowl season, so no concerns there. Dontari Poe was a big-money free agent signing in 2018 but didn’t have the impact many of us had hoped for (17 tackles, one sack, three quarterback hits). Vernon Butler hasn’t lived up to his 2016 first round draft pick status with just 45 career tackles and two sacks in 38 largely ineffective games. The only other defensive tackles currently on the roster are Woodrow Hamilton and Elijah Qualls.

Depth is always needed at defensive tackle because players are rotated out so frequently to catch their breath. The position is often a four-man rotation where even the third and fourth players on the depth chart play a lot of snaps. In 2018, for example, Kawann Short played in 59 percent of Carolina’s defensive snaps while fellow starter Dontari Poe played in 52 percent. Filling in the gaps were Love with 47 percent and Butler with 33 percent. The defensive tackle position normally requires four capable players, and as of today the Panthers only have two in Short and Poe. All eyes will be on Butler in 2019 with the hope he has a breakout season and avoids the “first round bust” label, but if that doesn’t happen then the Panthers are shockingly thin at defensive tackle.

Kyle Love has proven to be a capable rotational player with a reasonable cap hit during his five season season in Carolina. He just completed a two-year, $2.2 million contract and remains a free agent so my assumption is he could be signed to a deal somewhere near the $1.1 million he made on his last last contract, but that’s just speculation on my part. While the Panthers have limited cap space, that’s not a bad cap hit for a proven veteran who can be counted on to play nearly half of then team’s defensive snaps. And as far as the cap goes, there’s a certain wide receiver with a $5.0 million cap hit who can still be released before the season to free up some additional funds (Torrey Smith, I’m looking in your general direction.)

It’s hard to assess how productive defensive tackles are by just looking at traditional stats like tackles and sacks so let’s look at how both Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Reference graded the Panthers defensive tackles in 2018. PFF was high on Love as his 77.3 grade ranked No. 31 among interior defensive linemen. This puts Love behind Short (83.7) but ahead of Poe (69.0) and Butler (63.5). On the other hand, Pro Football Reference gave Love an Approximate Value (AV) of 2 in 2018, which isn’t good. This trailed both Short (8) and Poe (6), but once again put him ahead of Butler (1).

At age 32 Love’s best years are probably behind him, but the Panthers should be in win-now mode and can prioritize production over youth in some cases. Plus, Love has shown no signs of slowing down. In fact, PFF named him as the Panthers most improved player of 2018. The big guy still has some gas left in the tank.

Because the Panthers have more pressing needs to address in the draft than defensive tackle, bringing Kyle Love back on a reasonable deal makes a lot of sense to me. He would provide capable depth at a position that will always need it, all without breaking the bank.

What’s not to love about that?

Trai Turner Jersey

The 2019 free agency class is still strong at safety, even after the top name at the position went off the market – Earl Thomas is going to the Ravens to replace Eric Weddle. Another good name just became available. After adding the honey badger Tyrann Mathieu, the Chiefs had no more need of fan-favorite Eric Berry, who has been released.

The Panthers have already signed one safety this offseason – Eric Reid is under contract for the next three years. They need another starter to pair with him after the exit of Mike Adams, though. Carolina’s four-time Pro Bowl right guard Trai Turner wants Berry, for one.
On the surface, Berry could be a solid addition in Charlotte.

The Panthers were obviously interested in signing Eric Weddle, and apparently were one of the five teams that were on his final list before he signed with the Rams. That means they’re likely still looking for another safety.

Berry is a tenacious defender with excellent ball skills (14 career interceptions and 51 pass breakups). He’s also the right kind of character from a culture perspective and would no doubt quickly become one of coach Ron Rivera’s favorites.

On the downside, injuries have been a problem for Berry throughout his career and he’s only played three regular season games over the last two years. Berry is also more of a strong safety – and Carolina needs more of a cover safety to balance out Reid’s skill-set.

Then again, Berry’s history with injuries (and the number of names still out there) could drive down his price tag.

Ryan Kalil Jersey

There is a void that needs to be filled – figuratively and literally – in the center of the Carolina Panthers’ offensive line.

For more than a decade, the Panthers knew that they could count on All-Pro center Ryan Kalil to not only perform among the very best at his position, but to also serve as the leader of the offensive line group and one of the leaders of the team as a whole. As such, the Panthers have a tall task ahead of them in finding a successor for Kalil, who retired at the conclusion of the 2018 season.

During his NFL Combine press conference, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera stated that the team is looking for their prospective future center to “come in and take over” for Kalil. And in doing so, he espoused confidence in Tyler Larsen, who has served as Kalil’s backup and played multiple games in his stead.
“You are looking for your center to come in and take over, and I think we’ve got somebody there in Larsen already who has played for us, has done that very, very well,” said Rivera. “But we are also looking for a guy that will step up and be the leader in the room – and not just in the position room, but in the (team room) as a whole. You are most certainly looking for a guy with leadership qualities.

“I thought Larsen did a really nice job when he got his opportunities. I felt very comfortable about that. And we’ll continue to look at how we can improve our offensive line. Because as we’ve said before, we’re on a mission to protect our quarterback and to put playmakers around him.”

In the past two months, the Panthers have lost a multitude of players who served as their longtime leaders: Players like Kalil, Thomas Davis, and Julius Peppers who stepped up, took responsibility, and held both themselves and others accountable. And the significance of having to find players who can take over in those sorts of roles is not lost on Rivera.
“Ryan Kalil was a very special player. I was very fortunate to have a number of those types of guys,” said Rivera. “That’s one of the things that has happened with us in terms of the transition of losing some of the veteran guys. The people that we’re gonna have to replace, not just on the field but in the locker room, in the meeting rooms, in the team room, and on the field is gonna be very, very important.”

But with that said, filling leadership roles on the team is a more delicate process than simply designating an individual player as a “leader”. Rather, Rivera stated that one has to look at who a player is and see whether or not a leadership role fits their personality.

“I’m not gonna ask a guy to do something that he’s not capable of doing,” said Rivera. “But at the same time, if I see somebody that can or has potential, I will most certainly talk with them. I think that we as a football team have to find our leaders. We have a number of them already in place that have been leaders for us, but with the loss of a couple of key guys, I think we’ve got to have other guys step up.”

Luke Kuechly Jersey

On Jan. 1, 2007, the Boise State Broncos upset the mighty Adrian-Peterson-led-Oklahoma Sooners in the Fiesta Bowl. The game ended with running back Ian Johnson’s game-clinching two-point conversion in overtime on a Statue of Liberty play, and after the game, during a live interview with FOX Sports’s Chris Myers, Johnson got down on one knee and proposed to cheerleader Chrissy Popadics. She said yes, and Johnson, a sudden celebrity, forever captured Boise’s heart.

A few weeks later at the 2009 NFL combine, Johnson ran a running back-best 4.46 40-yard dash, but he ultimately went undrafted. He toiled in obscurity on Viking, Cardinal, Niner and Dolphin practice squads from 2009-11, and then joined the rest of us in civilian life. All the while, Boiseans lamented that the NFL wasn’t “giving Johnson a chance,” and many were convinced it was because he was just a small fish from a small city.

Really, it was because Johnson couldn’t move left and right. As his 40-yard time dictated, Johnson’s straight-line speed was great, but his lateral movement was stiff. For an NFL running back, a player’s most important trait is the ability to move laterally—especially within confined areas, it’s how he makes defenders miss and set up blocks. Lateral agility is rarely talked about because it can be hard to spot unless it’s on a Barry Sanders or Le’Veon Bell type highlight play. And, unlike straight-line speed (which is borderline irrelevant) lateral agility is difficult to measure nicely, making it nearly impossible for the masses to tweet and talk about.

It’s astonishing how often those traits are overlooked in the pre-draft process. A smart evaluator addresses these traits first when examining a prospect, because any player who lacks that trait will, to one degree or another, have limited upside. It’s crucial that an evaluator understand this—many draft busts are players whose team didn’t recognize, or honor, the repercussions of him lacking that trait.

With draft season upon us, these skills should be the starting points for discussions on all players. And almost any player who lacks his position’s most important trait should not be considered as a potential first-round pick.

Cam Newton Jersey

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton shocked a late-night TV audience on Wednesday by revealing what he’s given up in March to make his mind stronger.

“In March — I hope this is an adult crowd, it looks like it is — no climax,” Newton told James Cordon, according to the show’s YouTube video of the segment.

The audience let out a sustained “wooooooo” before Cordon reacted with his classic “Shut the front door” expression of surprise.

“Straight up. I’m going through a transition right now, like, where,” Newton started to explain before Cordon interrupted with an “Oh. My. God.,” which prompted laughter from the audience.
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“You should have at least done it in February,” joked fellow guest David Boreanaz, star of the CBS series “Seal Team,” prompting audience laughter and applause. “You got 28 days in February.”

“I wanted it to be challenging,” Newton explained. “I’m coming off shoulder surgery.”

“Oh, I get it,” Cordon replied. “It’s harder. To throw. I understand.”

“That’s including no Wi-Fi,” Newton said. No ‘thigh thigh.’ ”

“No ‘thigh thigh?’ “ Boreanaz asked.

“Thigh thigh, man,” Newton responded, slapping his thighs.

“So how are you finding it? How are you doing?” Cordon asked.

“It’s hard,” Newton replied.

“I bet it is,” Cordon replied, with a laugh.

“What made you want to do this?” Cordon asked of Newton taking on a different challenge each month of 2019.

In January, Newton told Cordon, he gave up betting for the year. In February, he became vegan.

“It makes my mind stronger,” Newton said. “So when the season comes around, I say if I did those things, I’m mentally stronger.

“I’m drafting you first round,” Boreanaz tells Newton to applause, referring to his next Fantasy League team.

Also on the show, Newton:

▪ Obliged when Cordon pleaded with him to bring his famous Dab out of retirement one last time.

▪ Correctly identified the cheapest of three bottles of wine – $3 – after Cordon noted how Newton had become a noted wine connoisseur. Newton incorrectly identified the $25 and $100 bottles.

▪ Correctly identified photos of a mountain lion, jaguar and a panther. When Newton paused while trying to identify one of the photos, Cordon needled him by saying, “You’re a Panther!”
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton shocked a late-night TV audience on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, by revealing what he’s given up in March to make his mind stronger. “In March — I hope this is an adult crowd, it looks like it is — no climax,” Newton told Cordon, according to the show’s YouTube video of the segment.