The Carolina Panthers don’t have a firm answer at quarterback.
They have options, but lack clarity at this point in the offseason, which means it’s likely the Panthers will add to the position in the offseason. General manager Scott Fitterer said as much Friday, while also including those still on the roster — Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker — in consideration for 2022.
“Yes, it is important to bring Sam,” Fitterler said he asked for Darnon if he was satisfied with him as a quarter of the team. “Last year we hit it. It’s all what we had, as we had. As you know, we also need to bring our boy and pajamas .Yes. Develop Walker. But I also want to expand the group. Whether it’s design, swap, or something else, the focus here is to add something to the space.
Adding to the room could mean via free agency, trade, or the NFL draft.
The latter seems the most likely, especially as the Panthers have made sure to be front and center at each and almost every pro day workout featuring a top signal-caller in this class. Fitterer and coach Matt Rhule were in Pittsburgh to watch Kenny Pickett‘s workout, and in Lynchburg, Virginia, to watch Liberty quarterback Malik Willis‘ workout. Rhule stood front and center behind Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral during his pro day workout this week.
The sixth Carolina in the first round of the draft could be the first team to take a quarterback. In short, Panthers may be able to choose the outlook available.
Carolina has also been busy in the offseason, adding pieces to both sides of the ball with the intent to provide as much freedom as possible to select the player they want most at No. 6. Their work has Fitterer “excited” about how it “frees us up for the draft, so we can go multiple ways with that first pick.”
Most signs seem to indicate choosing a quarterback. If so, the Panthers could send out a rookie with the starter in the first week, and Fitterler seems happy.
“I think all these guys are capable of being starters,” Fitterer said. “I think once you get them you develop a plan of how you want to deal with them. We’re starting that process now, ‘Hey, what can we do?’ Ideally, every quarterback, no matter what it would be, whoever it is, would sit a little while and learn, however, when it’s time it’s time, and they’ll let you know.”
But what if Carolina finds a suitable option via trade?
“I haven’t talked to the team about this lately,” Fitterler said. “I think we’ll consider all the options, draft or commercial. The team just needs to call you and no one has called us lately.”
The Panthers could, of course, initiate such discussions by picking up the phone and placing a call to San Francisco or Cleveland. It seems they’re content with waiting for one of those clubs (or others) to dial them, though, lessening the chance they’ll make a move prior to the draft.
When it comes to the people who played for the Panthers in 2021, Carolina doesn’t seem to have taken much care of any of them, including Come Newton.
“Matt spoke to Cam, so I contacted him several times. Matt spoke to him,” he said. “Cam has to suit us and he must suit him. He is looking for a particular opportunity. The door is still open. We are very open to the cam, we will see where it goes. He knows where we are standing. In my understanding, he and Matt had a very good conversation. So, yeah, we just see where it goes.
Darnold seems to be on slightly firmer footing with the Panthers‘ front office, but not by much. He can safely expect to be pushed by competition brought in from outside the organization — if he’s still with the team by the time training camp arrives.
“Yes, Sam’s on the roster. As I sit here right now, he’s on the roster,” Fitterer said. “He’s in the lead for that job. We want him to take it and run with it. But we’re gonna add a lot of competition to that room. The whole emphasis is to stabilize that quarterback positions and playing winning football, and that’s what we’re working towards.”
Charlotte still has a lot to solve, but if we learn something from Friday’s press, we’re confident that the Panthers are in almost every position except quarterbacks.
“Our overall goal is to win the NFC South every year. We want to compete every year,” Fitterler said. “And I think that’s the way we think. I think we’re two steps closer than just one step this year. I think we’re two steps closer to the actual competition in this NFC South area. I think we are right there, with all the people we brought.
“If we can get the quarterback position stabilized, we’re going to be competing for it.”