Carolina Panthers: It’s already been a year of change

It’s only late February. But the roster of the Carolina Panthers in 2019 will look dramatically different from this past season given some recent decisions.

It’s a football franchise that first took the field in 1995 and has a bit of success. The Carolina Panthers have 24 seasons under their collective shoulder pads and have made two Super Bowl appearances, albeit without winning a championship. The past four seasons alone has been a rollercoaster that would make Roy Walley proud.

There was a 15-1 campaign in 2015 and a trip to Super Bowl 50. That was followed by a 6-10 showing one year later and a last-place finish in the NFC South. Carolina rebounded to finish 11-5 and capture a Wild Card berth in 2017.

But this past year, a 6-2 start morphed into a 7-9 finish and the club wound up in third place in their division. Ron Rivera’s team snapped a seven-game skid in Week 17 with a 33-14 win over a Saints’ club that had already clinched home field advantage in the NFC playoffs.

Since the conclusion of 2018, it’s safe to say that a lot has happened. Start with the news surrounding quarterback Cam Newton, on the mend from shoulder surgery but expected to be ready for training camp. And that is kind of the good news because eventually, he will return.

Meanwhile, contemplate the massive changes in less than two minutes. After two stints with the organization, defensive end Julius Peppers has decided to hang it up after 17 NFL seasons — the first eight and the last two in Charlotte. Five-time Pro Bowl and two-time All-Pro center Ryan Kalil, who started all 16 games after a pair of injury-shortened campaigns, also announced his retirement. And talented outside linebacker Thomas Davis, a first-round pick by the franchise in 2005 and a three-time Pro Bowler, won’t be back with the club either.

But wait, there’s more. The team recently released veteran cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and announced that veteran safety Mike Adams, a potential unrestricted free agent, would not be re-signed.

Speaking of unrestricted free agents, the Panthers have their share of candidates. The list include wide receiver Devin Funchess, offensive linemen Amini Silatolu and Daryl Williams, reserve running backs Cameron Artis-Payne and Fozzy Whittaker, defensive end Wes Horton and linebacker David Mayo.

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The Carolina Panthers are seemingly in the midst of a metamorphosis and the roster could look dramatically different come this summer. The club did re-sign safety Eric Reid, a midseason addition this past year, to a three-year contract extension. But this is a team looking for some continuity and consistency and perhaps they can find it by developing their current and incoming younger players.

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