The free agency period in the NFL is right around the corner and everyone is weighing options of who to target.
Recently there has been a slew of players released – DeAngelo Williams, Ted Ginn, Jacoby Jones, Steven Jackson, and Reggie Bush – just to name a few. Every one of these guys will be on many teams’ radar, but who should the Carolina Panthers pursue?
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The wide receiver position is one that absolutely needs to be upgraded if the the Panthers want to three-peat as NFC South Champions. No team had ever even repeated as champions of the division until Carolina did so this past season, so they could really establish themselves as the dominant squad of the group.
Ted Ginn would be a perfect addition to the team, and actually was a Panther during their 12-4 season in 2013. His mix of speed as a receiver and ability as a returner would fill a lot of holes this team currently has. I’ve gone into more detail about why he would be a great fit – you can check that out here.
While a Ginn return would be a nice addition, initial reports indicate that he’s leaning towards returning to his hometown and playing for the Cleveland Browns.
If he decides against Carolina, where should they look next? Former Raven, Jacoby Jones, would be a nice backup plan.
Dec 14, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones (12) against the Jacksonville Jaguars at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
The Ravens released Jones this week after somewhat of a mixed campaign in 2014.
He struggled some with drops this season and a couple of muffed punts. However, his year wasn’t all bad, as he was one of only two players this past season to finish in the top 10 in both punt and kick return yards.
With Steve Smith leaving the Panthers and joining the Ravens, Jones saw his snaps decrease and essentially became expendable. He played in all 16 games but only saw 18 targets for nine catches and 131 yards after hauling in 37 catches for 455 yards and two touchdowns the season before.
Make no mistake about it, Jacoby Jones has blazing speed and can dominate any given game. He’s also shown that he’s no stranger to the big stage. In fact, Baltimore almost certainly doesn’t win Super Bowl XLVII if he’s not on the field.
As you may recall, Jones hauled in a 70-yard game-winning touchdown against the Denver Broncos to get Baltimore to the Super Bowl. Once there, he had a 56-yard touchdown catch and a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to help the Ravens come back against the San Francisco 49ers.
At 30 years old, Jones has certainly lost some of his 4.5 40-yard dash speed, but he still figures to be one of the quicker guys on the field at any given time.
His ability to take the top off of a defense would create space and open things up for Jonathan Stewart and the running game, even if he isn’t catching the ball. That being said, he like to go deep and Cam Newton likes to throw it deep. The two of them paired up could be a difficult combination for opposing defenses to stop.
Jacoby Jones could be a perfect fit for the Carolina Panthers and after a down year, he could be brought in at a discounted rate.
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