Carolina Panthers – Donovan Smith
It’s past time for Marty Hurney and company to pull the plug on Matt Kalil at left guard. He missed a lot of time in 2018 and he wasn’t good when he was on the field. Protecting Cam Newton’s blind side must be a huge priority for the Panthers this offseason.
It’s very possible the Buccaneers will elect to franchise Smith, but if they let him go, Carolina needs to pounce. He isn’t a Pro Bowl caliber tackle, but he’s a solid starter that Ron Rivera can trust out there every week. The Panthers haven’t had that sort of comfort at the left tackle spot since Jordan Gross retired.
Smith is also an ideal fit for a team that’s trying to win right now. The Panthers could easily choose to address the tackle position via the draft, but any rookie plugged into that spot is going to face some struggles early on. One missed block could end Newton’s prime. Minimizing that risk by adding a veteran should be very attractive for the Panthers.
If Smith isn’t available, the Panthers could easily turn their free agency attention to any number of edge rushers. They aren’t likely to be players for Clowney or DeMarcus Lawrence, but someone like Frank Clark or even Trey Flowers could be an interesting fit. Carolina has to fix one of their big issues in the trenches via free agency.