Stay or Go? Carolina Panthers Edition

Ryan Kalil, Center, go.

Image via Chat Sports

Kalil, a second-round draft pick by the Panthers in 2007, is listed in the “go” column for no reason other than his expected retirement. Via an ESPN article, Kalil stated prior to the 2018 NFL season that it would be his last as a pro. Kalil spent his entire 12-year NFL career in Carolina and his departure leaves the Panthers with big shoes to fill in the middle of the offensive line.

Thomas Davis, Linebacker, go.

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Davis is sailing in the same boat as Ryan Kalil. The 36-year-old would be found in the “stay” column, if a decision on his future with the team wasn’t already made. Davis is not retiring, though, but it was reported in January that the Panthers will not be re-signing him for the 2019 season.

Mike Adams, Safety, stay.

Nov 5, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers strong safety Mike Adams (29) returns an interception in the second quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Slapping the “stay” tag on Adams may seem peculiar, but let me explain why he should. Adams, though he’s 37 years old, is Carolina’s most experienced defensive back and is still one of the most productive on the Panthers’ defense. Adams has started all sixteen games in each of the past two seasons in Carolina, tallying 144 total tackles, two forced fumbles and recoveries, as well as five interceptions in those two seasons. His age may scare some fans, but the numbers show he still has it. Not only that, Adams is undoubtedly an ideal player to serve as a coach on the field for young players such as Donte Jackson.

Marshall Newhouse, Tackle, go.

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Newhouse was traded to the Panthers by the Buffalo Bills for a conditional 7th-round draft pick in 2021 in September of last year. The transaction screamed depth, and that’s all it was, as the veteran tackle only started in two games in 2018.

Devin Funchess, Wide Receiver, go.

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Funchess, a 2015 second-round draft pick, has showcased his talents as well as tremdous developmental upside in Carolina. With the upside, lies inconsistency. Funchess has shown the ability to dominate at the catch point of a 50/50 ball, but will also drop a wide open would-be touchdown. Carolina can afford to lose Funchess and should look to do so this spring.

Wes Horton, Defensive End, stay.

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Horton has spent his entire six-year career with Carolina and he’s been an important piece on their defensive front during that time. I am a firm believer in having a strong rotation in the defensive front seven and Horton provides strength in Carolina’s rotation.

Fozzy Whittaker, Running Back, stay.

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Whittaker has served as a kick return man for the majority of his NFL career, dating back to 2012. Whittaker was signed by the Panthers prior to the 2014 season where he has been a little-known swiss army knife, providing effectiveness in the ground and passing games, as well as on special teams. Whittaker did suffer a torn ACL in May or 2018, but the injury should not prevent the 28-year-old from remaining a resident of Charlotte.

Colin Jones, Safety, stay.

CHARLOTTE, NC – OCTOBER 25: Colin Jones #42 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after making an interception against the Philadelphia Eagles during their game at Bank of America Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Jones has been a Panther ever since he was traded to Carolina by the San Francisco 49ers in August of 2012. Jones has been a fine player for the Panthers, serving as a starter caliber player in the defensive secondary and an impact player on special teams. Players that can be ready to start in the blink of an eye and produce on special teams aren’t the easiest of finds in this league.

Kyle Love, Defensive Tackle, stay.

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Love, like Horton, provides solid depth for the defensive front seven rotation. Carolina shouldn’t think twice about offering the 32-year-old a short-term contract.

Chris Clark, Tackle, stay.

Image via Charlotte Observer

Clark has only protected Cam Newton’s blindside for one season, but the 33-year-old is deserving of that role for a few more. Clark started 13 games for the Panthers in 2018, but if he doesn’t start in 2019, he should remain on the roster as a depth option without question. 

Kenjon Barner, Running Back, go.

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Barner, who started his NFL career with the Panthers in 2013, was claimed by Carolina off of waivers from the New England Patriots back in November of last year. Barner returned nine kickoffs and seven punts before being placed on Injured Reserve on December 28th.

Travaris Cadet, Running Back, go.

Dec 3, 2017; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills running back Travaris Cadet (39) during the second quarter against the New England Patriots at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina added Cadet in November of 2018, but the 30-year-old was buried deep on the Panthers’ running back depth chart. There isn’t much reason for Carolina to retain Cadet as he rarely made an appearance on the field for the Panthers.

Daryl Williams, Tackle, stay.

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The 27-year-old Williams suffered a torn ACL in Week one of last year, a heartbreaker after the tackle was looking to prove his worth to the team after a strong 2017 campaign. Though he’s only started one full season, Williams is a talented starter in this league, and a talented starter Carolina desperately needs on its offensive line.

Damiere Byrd, Wide Receiver, stay.

Aug 9, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Damiere Byrd (18) returns a punt in the first quarter against the Houston Texans at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Byrd, a lightning quick punt returner, is slated to become a restricted free agent this spring. Byrd has also shown that he has the ability to stretch the field as a pass catcher, giving Carolina little reason to argue against keeping him around moving forward.

David Mayo, Linebacker, stay.

Sep 18, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers linebacker David Mayo (55) reacts during the first half against the San Francisco 49ers at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers defeated the 49ers 46-27. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The door is open for Mayo to have an increased role following the release of fellow linebacker Ben Jacobs. Mayo has flashed potential on special teams and has also been a capable fill in for star linebacker Luke Kuechly on defense.

Cameron Artis-Payne, Running Back, stay.

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Artis-Payne has done a fine job as a fill-in runner for Carolina throughout his four-year career. The 29-year-old back rushed for 69 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries in 2018. Of the other depth players mentioned previously such as Kenjon Barner and Travaris Cadet, Artis-Payne is a better option as a back-up to Christian McCaffrey in the ground game.