How Panthers' roster might look in 2016

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said after the Super Bowl 50 loss to Denver that he wanted to keep the core of the roster intact.

Here’s a projected look at what the 2016 two-deep depth chart could look like prior to free agency and the NFL draft:


Quarterback -- Cam Newton, Derek Anderson

Comment: Joe Webb is a free agent, but look for the Panthers to re-sign him as a third-string quarterback/wide receiver/special teams player. Versatility makes him valuable.

Running back -- Jonathan Stewart, Cameron Artis-Payne.

Comment: Fozzy Whittaker also is under contract and will fit into the mix, but look for Carolina to start grooming Artis-Payne as a future replacement for Stewart.

Fullback -- Mike Tolbert, draft pick or free agent

Comment: Tolbert is a free agent, but he’s a valuable team leader and serves a multi-purpose role as a blocker, runner and receiver. It’ll all come down to how much of a pay cut he’s willing to take. It wouldn’t be a total surprise if he didn’t re-sign.

Tight end -- Greg Olsen, Ed Dickson

Comment: This position is set. It’s just a matter of developing a third player behind these two.

Wide receiver -- Kelvin Benjamin, Ted Ginn Jr.

Comment: As Gettleman said, getting Benjamin back from a 2015 season-ending knee injury is like getting an extra first-round pick. Look for Carolina to add a draft pick here as well for depth.

Wide receiver -- Devin Funchess, Philly Brown or Stephen Hill

Comment: The depth here makes it a tough sell to re-sign 33-year-old Jerricho Cotchery despite his leadership. The Panthers still see potential in Hill, a former second-round pick by the Jets who is fast and big.

Left tackle -- Michael Oher, free agent or draft pick

Comment: Oher has only one year left on his contract, so it’s time for the Panthers to develop a future replacement. Nate Chandler, who was on injured reserve, also could fit into the mix here.

Left guard -- Andrew Norwell, free agent or draft pick

Comment: You could see Amini Silatolu figure in here if he successfully returns from another season-ending injury (knee) and can be re-signed. The history of injuries makes him a risk, though.

Center -- Ryan Kalil, free agent or draft pick

Comment: The Panthers could bring back free agent Fernando Velasco, but Kalil will turn 31 this season so it could be time to groom a young player as a possible future replacement.

Right guard -- Trai Turner, free agent or draft pick

Comment: Chris Scott could be re-signed to fill the backup role.

Right tackleMike Remmers, Daryl Williams

Comment: Remmers had a disastrous Super Bowl and struggled at times during the season, so don’t be surprised if 2015 fourth-round pick Williams wins the starting job after an injury-plagued rookie season.


Left end -- Charles Johnson, free agent or draft pick

Comment: This could change if the Panthers can’t renegotiate Johnson’s 2016 cap figure down from $15 million and change. But regardless it’s time for the Panthers to find a long-term solution at this position.

Tackle -- Kawann Short, Kyle Love

Comment: Love is a free agent, but he played well enough that the Panthers likely will bring him back.

Tackle -- Star Lotulelei, Dwan Edwards

Comment: Edwards could retire even though he has a year left on his contract. If not, still look for the Panthers to look at a younger player in free agency or the draft for competition and depth purposes.

Right end -- Kony Ealy, Mario Addison

Comment: It seems unlikely free agent Jared Allen will be brought back for a 13th season. Not to mention Ealy showed with three sacks, an interception and a forced fumble in Super Bowl 50 that he is the future here. Addison still is valuable as a pass rusher.

Weakside linebacker -- Thomas Davis, A.J. Klein

Comment: This position is pretty much set in stone.

Middle linebacker -- Luke Kuechly, David Mayo

Comment: Ben Jacobs also will figure in as the backup here.

Strongside linebacker -- Shaq Thompson, A.J. Klein

Comment: With a year under his belt, Thompson will give Carolina more flexibility than ever.

Cornerback -- Josh Norman, Robert McClain

Comment: The Panthers likely will use the franchise tag on Norman if they can’t get a long-term deal. They signed McClain through 2016 when they brought him in late in the season. He also could battle for the starting spot opposite Norman, but is a bit undersized for Gettleman’s tastes.

Strong safety -- Roman Harper/free agent/draft pick, free agent or draft pick

Comment: Harper, 33, is a free agent. He could re-sign, retire or the Panthers could look to get younger here. Also, Kurt Coleman could become the starter here with Tre Boston starting at free safety.

Free safety -- Kurt Coleman, Tre Boston

Comment: Coleman was a free agent steal in 2015. As mentioned above, he could replace Harper if the Panthers feel Boston is ready to take over at free.

Cornerback -- Bene Benwikere/free agent, free agent or draft pick

Comment: I just don’t see Carolina bringing Charles Tillman back. He’ll be 35 later this month and he has had a season-ending injury three straight years. If they do, it’ll be for depth. In all likelihood a free agent will be signed to keep Benwikere at the nickel spot.


Placekicker -- Graham Gano, Swayze Waters

Comment: Waters recently was signed from the Canadian Football League. He can punt and kick, but will do neither for Carolina if punter Brad Nortman is re-signed.

Punter -- Brad Nortman, Swayze Waters

Comment: Waters was signed as insurance in case a deal isn’t reached with Nortman. He also could win the job outright.

Long snapper -- J.J. Jansen

Comment: Jansen is a free agent, but look for Carolina to lock him down with another deal.