Carolina Panthers: Time to consider Harry Douglas?


We’re a little over a week away from free agency, which means it’s time for speculation and speculation, with a little more speculation sprinkled in.

Over the past few days, dozens of players have been released from the teams they surrendered blood, sweat, and tears for, and they’ll all be looking for a new place to call home.

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The Carolina Panthers will be scouring this group in search of a wide receiver to bolster their bunch from a season ago.

Rookie, Kelvin Benjamin, enjoyed a very productive first year, as he hauled in 73 passes for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns. Fellow rookie, Philly Brown, displayed a lot of promise as well – particularly down the stretch – as he was able to secure 21 catches for 296 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Outside of those two, Carolina doesn’t have much in that way of pass-catchers for the upcoming season. Jerricho Cotchery will be valuable in terms of being a great mentor for the young guys, but he likely won’t contribute much on the field. Brenton Bersin has shown good hands (despite his poor decision-making on punt returns) but the jury is still out as to whether he can be a quality, consistent NFL receiver.

This means that (ideally) they’ll need to hit on at least one guy via free agency and at least one other from the draft.

In terms of free agency, the Panthers would be wise to look in the direction of one guy that has spent his entire career trying to take them down – Atlanta’s Harry Douglas.

Douglas is an above-average slot receiver that has shown that, when given a chance, he can be a solid and productive receiver in this league.

His best season came in 2013 when Roddy White and Julio Jones were sidelined for a significant portion of the year. Douglas was forced to step his production up, and he did just that.

Dec 14, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas (83) runs with the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Steelers defeated the Falcons 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

He would finish the season with 85 receptions for 1,067 yards. He did, however, only bring in two touchdown catches, but that’s largely because he’s most effective as a slot guy and future Hall of Famer, Tony Gonzalez, dominated the red-zone targets.

Many have criticized him, as they feel he has underproduced given his potential and the pass-happy nature of the Falcons’ offense. Personally, I think that’s largely due to the fact that he was surrounded by superstars. For a portion of his career, Douglas was fighting Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez for targets, but there are only so many that can go around.

This could, however, be to Carolina’s advantage, as his somewhat disappointing production, coupled with his age (30 years old), will keep his price relatively low.

Having Douglas would give Cam Newton a reliable target in the slot and would take some pressure off of Kelvin Benjamin in third-down situations. He could also serve as a good veteran presence for Philly Brown, who has the makings of a quality slot receiver himself.

Out of all the recently released wide receivers, I would place the depth chart for the Panthers targets as follows: Ted Ginn, Jacoby Jones, then Harry Douglas.

If Carolina were to get anyone from this group, they would still need to get a player from the upcoming draft, but with how deep it’s projected to be, that shouldn’t be an issue.

Next: NFL Draft: The benefit of being number one

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