Is there a plan to improve the offensive line now that most of the pieces are in place to make a playoff team except for that weak link? – Ron, High Point, North Carolina
How long before this team changes the offensive line? Five sacks and 11 QB hits on Sunday just isn’t going to cut it. IMO, this team is still a solid offensive line far from a contender. – Jeff, Henderson, NV
Do you think the Panthers would be looking to improve the offensive line via free agency / trade at this point in the season? More importantly, do you see them making it a priority this offseason? – Gastric Beerpass, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Are there trade options for our offensive line or are we stuck for the rest of the season? – Gary, Summerville, South Carolina
I sense a trend. I also feel like at least one of you isn’t using the name your mom gave you (I’m looking at you, Gary).
Yes, it’s fair to say that the Panthers’ line condition after the Dallas game isn’t ideal. It’s based on all the pressure, as well as the plan it gave the opponents. Quarterback Sam Darnold recognized him after the game.
It also doesn’t help that a few guys are sort of beaten up right now. Left tackle Cameron Erving (knee) and right guard John Miller (shoulder) were on the injury report but continued to play, and Panthers head coach Matt Rhule suggested on Monday that physical availability will be a factor in building the offensive line this week.
There are things they could do, but almost all of them are internal. Almost.
I stopped by Harris Teeter this morning on my way to work, and the aisle where they keep tackles and pro Bowl guards was as empty as the milk and bread section when Brad Panovich calls for flurries of snow here. As we mentioned earlier in this space, there are no veteran free agents sitting on the streets waiting to be signed off at the level they need.
Trading is another story, and as long as Scott Fitterer (Mr. “In On Every Deal”) is the managing director, I think it’s a good thing his phone has an unlimited plan.
However, demand exceeds supply at the moment. So it’s not as easy as wanting it.
The league’s trade deadline is November 2. That leaves time. Offensive linemen can’t slip into a lineup with a new team with the same ease as a running back or wide receiver. Communication and cohesion within a line are sometimes as important as the talent of the individual components. So even if they are able to strike a deal, these things are not always quick fixes.
And it’s worth keeping those last two words in mind when considering making a transaction.
The Panthers haven’t traded for cornerback CJ Henderson just because Jaycee Horn is injured. They did this to acquire what they believe to be a future asset.
So if a non-competing team were just trying to offload a guy’s salary they don’t want to pay before he becomes a free agent the next offseason, the Panthers probably wouldn’t automatically be interested – unless they didn’t think keeping it next year was worth it.
Again, we’re one month ahead of the trade deadline and four weeks into the season. So it’s a bit early for the teams to fully surrender and start auctioning players. But I would expect calls to be made. And the Panthers are far from the only ones watching.
The other option the Panthers have, and again it might depend on the health of the players involved, would be to make some changes with the guys on hand.
Throughout training camp, they experienced right tackle Taylor Moton playing on the left. Rookie Brady Christensen has secured tackling and guard reps on both sides. Veteran Trent Scott has four-position versatility and looks to have been the best backup option in recent weeks. Rookie Deonte Brown got into much better shape, hitting the 335-pound range after coming to the Senior Bowl at 364 pounds.
There are buttons the Panthers can press, if they need to (which they could) or want (which would be justifiable based on the results).
As for the future, yes, they know it’s a problem they need to solve. This is part of the reason why they have tried to structure the contracts to give themselves flexibility for this season and the following years, so if they need to add an expensive free agent or an existing contract, they will. can.