CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- You can debate whether the Carolina Panthers overspent on left tackle Matt Kalil, who got a five-year, $55 million deal. You can debate whether they took a risk in signing aging veterans in 37-year-old defensive end Julius Peppers and safety Mike Adams, who turns 36 on Friday.
You can debate they made a mistake in not re-signing wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr.
You may even debate whether the roster on paper is stronger now than it was after the 2016 season.
I believe it is.
There still are depth issues, most that will be filled through the draft, beginning with the eighth overall pick.
Here’s a look at how the depth chart is taking shape (unrestricted free agents signings from other teams in caps):
Starter: Cam Newton
Comment: No changes here. The biggest change has to be with Newton. He is scheduled to have shoulder surgery on March 30 to repair a partially torn rotator cuff that impacted his throwing late last season. Also, the offense evolving to make him less of a factor in the running game.
Starter: Jonathan Stewart
Comment: Stewart turned 30 on Tuesday. Because of that the Panthers will select a running back at some point in the draft. It could be the first round, where LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook are viable options.
Starter: Matt Kalil
Comment: Whether you agree with Kalil’s price tag, signing a veteran left tackle was a must in free agency because this is a weak year at that position in the draft. The Panthers still don’t know whether Oher (concussion) will play this season, so finding a viable backup in the draft becomes vital.
Starter: Andrew Norwell
Comment: In Norwell and Silatolu, the Panthers are solid with starting experience.
Starter: Ryan Kalil
Comment: The plus of losing Kalil and Gradkowski to injuries last season is Larsen proved he can play in a crunch.
Starter: Trai Turner
Comment: Again, proven starters in Pro Bowler Turner and Scott. No concerns here.
Starter: Michael Oher or Daryl Williams
Comment: If Oher is cleared from the concussion protocol, he becomes the front-runner for the job. If not, the Panthers are comfortable Williams can fill that role. Again, the issue is depth.
Starter: Greg Olsen
Comment: The issue is who would step up to Olsen’s level if the Pro Bowler is hurt. That’s why I’ve been leaning toward Alabama’s O.J. Howard with the eighth pick.
•Wide receiver 1
Starter: Kelvin Benjamin
Comment: Benjamin showed signs of returning to the form that makes him a solid No. 1 receiver late in the season. Shepard is an up-and-comer acquired in free agency from Tampa Bay who provides depth.
•Wide receiver 2
Starter: Devin Funchess
Comment: Funchess has to step up in his third season, particularly with the loss of Ginn. He’s still not the speed/slot guy the Panthers need to stretch defenses. Johnson could be, but look for Carolina to address that need in the draft.
•Left defensive end
Starter: Charles Johnson
Comment: The Panthers should look for a long-term solution in the draft with Johnson set to turn 31 this year and Julius Peppers on the other side at 37.
•Left defensive tackle
Starter: Star Lotulelei
Comment: The only issue here is will the Panthers sign Lotulelei to a long-term deal prior to this season or after the season.
•Right defensive tackle
Starter: Kawann Short
Backups: Vernon Butler
Comment: The four-man rotation at tackle (Short, Lotulelei, Butler and Love) will be the same as last season barring injury.
•Right defensive end
Starter: Julius Peppers
Comment: The Panthers believe so strongly Peppers can be viable at 37 that they traded Kony Ealy to New England. With Addison, who led the team in sacks (9.5) last season, the Panthers have plenty of options to get to the quarterback.
Starter: Shaq Thompson
Comment: This should be Thompson’s year to emerge, and maybe a chance to get Cash on the field in certain situations.
Starter: Luke Kuechly
Comment: The Panthers felt strongly enough in Mayo being ready to step up that they let A.J. Klein sign with New Orleans.
Starter: Thomas Davis
Backups: Jared Norris
Comment: Davis turns 34 today, but he still plays like he’s 24. Enough said.
Starter: James Bradberry
Comment: Bradberry, last year’s second-round pick, showed he’s ready to fill Josh Norman's shoes. Quality depth behind him is the issue.
Starter: Mike Adams
Comment: Signing Adams to play strong safety allows Kurt Coleman to return to his natural position of free safety.
Starter: Kurt Coleman
Backups: Tre Boston
Comment: Coleman has been Carolina’s most complete and productive safety the past two years with 11 interceptions, seven when he played free in 2015.
Starter: Daryl Worley
Comment: Worley improved arguably more than any member of the secondary last season. If he struggles Munnerlyn can step in.
Starter: Captain Munnerlyn
Comment: Signing Munnerlyn, who played nickel at Carolina for much of his first five seasons (2009-13), was one of Carolina’s biggest offseason moves.
Deep snapper -- J.J. Jansen
Kicker -- Graham Gano
Kick returner -- TBD, Fozzy Whittaker
Punt returner -- TBD, Brenton Bersin
Comment: The biggest question is the return specialists, particularly punter with the loss of Ginn. The answer may be in the draft.