For the Carolina Panthers, one of the top offseason goals is to surround franchise quarterback Cam Newton with some new weapons in the passing game. Newton has shown great rapport with Steve Smith over the last two seasons, but Smith, now 33, won’t be around forever.
The draft and free agent pools both provide many top receivers that the Panthers could look to add to their team. Asked about one particular receiver, free agent Mike Wallace, Rivera seemed enticed by the idea of adding Wallace.
“You’re warm, but you know what’s going to be interesting is how things unfold once we get to March 12,” Rivera said on “NFL AM.” “There’s a lot of things that are out there that we have to really take into consideration. You know, we’ll see how things are going to affect us when we get to the 12th.”
Is this a case of reading too much into the situation? Quite possibly, yes. But next to defensive tackle, wide receiver is one of the most pressing areas of need for this Panthers team. Over the past two years, Smith and tight end Greg Olsen are the only Panthers to register more than 45 catches in a season.
If Rivera is truly alluding to the fact that the team would like to add another receiver with deep speed much like Smith, Wallace would certainly be right up that alley. Former Green Bay receiver Greg Jennings could also be an option.
But with the Panthers already more than $10 million over the salary cap, adding a free agent would be hard to do. With the 14th pick in the draft this year, the Panthers could also look at a guy like Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson has more size than Wallace or Jennings at 6’2″ and 216 pounds, but he also proved to have that deep speed after running a 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine this weekend. There are many prospects in the second- or third-round range, such as Baylor’s Terrance Williams and Texas’ Marquise Goodwin, that could also fill this role for the Panthers.
Follow us on Twitter - @DownandDistance
Down and Distance Columnist Joe Ray - @jpray_SK