Coming off a 17-2 season and a Super Bowl 50 appearance, the Carolina Panthers had some key decisions to make in the 2016 offseason, they had a lot of free agents, and a few positions of need they knew they would need to address. After starting 1-5, looking back at the Panthers offseason, the mistakes they made become very clear. These are not listed in any particular order.
1. Re-Signing Mike Tolbert to a two year deal. Tolbert has had an absolutely dismal start to the 2016 season, rushing 18 times for just 51 yards, and only four catches for an embarrassing four yards. Through the first six games, Tolbert has zero touchdowns. After a strong 2015 season, Tolbert seems to have fallen off badly this season, making his two-year contract extension look like a mistake, especially when the Panthers had other, younger and cheaper options they could have went with.
2. Letting Josh Norman get away. By far the biggest news of the offseason for the Panthers, the complete debacle of placing the franchise tag on All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman only to then take it away from him and let him walk away to another team. The Panthers pass defense has went from a top five defense in 2015 to a bottom three secondary so far this season. The Panthers badly miss Norman.
3. Re-signed DE Charles Johnson. The Panthers originally cut Johnson in a salary cap move, however then re-signed him about a week later at a lower salary on a one year deal. However Johnson has failed to do much of anything this season, recording just 13 tackles, and 1/2 sack. Johnson is 30 years old and has declined in production each of the last three season. The Panthers probably would have been better off signing a free agent DE that was on the free agent market and letting Johnson go.
4. Not re-signing Roman Harper. Harper was a key player for the Panthers the last two seasons in their secondary, not just for his production, but for his leadership. Harper was the leader in the secondary, and always made sure the younger corners and safeties where in place and where they needed to be, something that had been badly missed so far this season as they Panthers secondary has been out of position on numerous occasions which has cost them many times.