The NFC South is the equivalent of a roulette wheel. It seems like every year a different team is winning the division. Last year it was Atlanta. The Carolina Panthers hope 2013 is their time. They have a tough schedule ahead. Could some trades prove beneficial to that endeavor?
Having lots of money tied up in running backs gets viewed as a highway to front office purgatory for teams in a passing NFL. So DeAngelo Williams, at age 30 is creating a lot of buzz as a potential trade option. His body hasn’t taken the typical amount of punishment classic backs do, which keeps his value high and when used properly he has proven he can be very productive. The problem is he hasn’t really found a niche in the read-option offense built around quarterback Cam Newton. He rushed for fewer yards and touchdowns last season despite actually having more attempts than in 2011. As younger backup Jonathan Stewart continues his push for the starting job, it’s becoming clear the Carolina Panthers should start entertaining the idea of moving Williams out.
Salary cap is the biggest problem facing the team when it comes to Charles Johnson. He was one of their best players in 2012, collecting 12.5 sacks. Those sacks come with a hefty price tag though. Johnson will bring a $13 million cap hit in 2013 and a $15 million hit in 2014. The ways things are shaping up Carolina could sit right near the cap limit next year, robbing them of any opportunities in free agency. Unloading Johnson might sound too drastic but it makes some sense. At age 26 his value won’t get much higher and the Panthers already have a young up-and-comer in place with Greg Hardy who is a free agent next year. The team will need more money to sign him. Couple that with the additions of highly touted defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short and it spells safety for Carolina if they chose to swap Johnson for draft picks.
Sometimes young quarterbacks never get a fair shot to prove what they can do. Jimmy Clausen played 13 games his rookie season for a bad team in 2010. The next year Carolina drafted Newton. Since then Clausen has sat in obscurity on the depth chart. Many attribute this to his somewhat antagonizing personality, often viewed as cocky and a jerk at times. He is also 25-years old, a former 2nd round pick who has a good arm, mobility, accuracy and was mentored by a good coach in Charlie Weis in college. It’s surprising he hasn’t pressed the Carolina Panthers front office harder to trade him. He certainly deserves another shot if a team will take him in.