The Carolina Panthers biggest need this offseason will now be at the offensive tackle position, and it will be interesting to see if they choose to address the position aggressively in free agency or draft an OT. Per a source close to the Charlotte Observer’s Joe Person, starting left tackle Jordan Gross has decided to retire after 11 seasons in the NFL, and the All-Pro talent’s decision to hang up his spikes will cause the Panthers to lose one of their best players.
Gross has always been a very good player in this league, and he’s a legend for Panthers fans. A “Ring of Honor” lock, Gross showed no effects of decline this past season, as the 33-year-old was one of the best tackles in the NFL. A steady pass protector, the Utah product rarely allowed pressure to Cam Newton’s blindside, and he’s going to be incredibly difficult for the Panthers to replace.
Offensive tackle was already a need before Gross reportedly decided to retire, as Bryon Bell has been nothing short of a turnstile as the team’s starting right tackle over the past two seasons. He’s clearly somebody who needs to be replaced immediately, but now the Panthers also have to worry about replacing a steady, star veteran at LT. With Greg Hardy looking to earn big bucks in free agency, the Panthers will have to let their DE go in order to pursue needs at CB, WR, and OT. Captain Munnerlyn is a near-lock to be re-signed at CB, but Gross’s decision to retire complicates things further for the Panthers from a financial and draft perspective.
Person reports that an official announcement will likely take place tomorrow.