The Carolina Panthers offensive line is in dire straits right now, and the massive blow was Jordan Gross’s decision to retire. One of the best players in franchise history, Gross has consistently been among the best left tackles in the NFL throughout the duration of his career, and he was absolutely fantastic last season, forming one of the best left sides in the game with fellow reliable veteran Travelle Wharton, who resurrected his career last season in his reunion with the Panthers. Gross, Wharton, and star center Ryan Kalil offset a poor right side of the line, and now Byron Bell, who would have potentially been upgraded in the offseason even with Gross on the roster, is now locked in as a starting tackle and currently penciled in as Cam Newton’s starting LT.
Veteran backup Geoff Hangartner also decided to retire, but he might not be the last chip to fall for the Panthers. According to the Charlotte Observer’s Joe Person, Travelle Wharton stated at today’s South Carolina pro day that while he hasn’t made a “final decision” yet, he is currently “leaning toward” retiring this offseason.
We’ve always stated that the Panthers will be in a crazy amount of trouble if Wharton decides to retire, so they’ll have to hope that he changes his mind and chooses to stick around. At this point, the Panthers will have to plan on him leaving, and now Dave Gettleman has two ridiculously big holes at wide receiver and on the OL to patch up in the 2014 NFL Draft. He’s an excellent drafter, and he’ll have to put together a very effective group of players this May.