According to ESPN’s Jenna Laine, team sources say they love LB Shaquil Barrett and will absolutely try to re-sign him this offseason after his breakout, 14.5 and counting sack season.
Laine expects Barrett to cost more than $18 million per season to re-sign. While Tampa Bay could use the franchise tag on Barrett at around $16 million, it would prevent them from using the tag on QB Jameis Winston if they want to evaluate him another season.
Barrett said he hasn’t talked much about his next deal with his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, but he would absolutely be interested in re-signing in Tampa: “It would mean a lot. The security, the team believing in me to keep me for that long — however long it may be — it’s gonna make me want to play harder for the team to show that much faith in me.”
Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians said the team is thrilled with how first-round rookie LB Devin White has progressed in recent weeks: “He’s a dynamic player. He’s really coming into his own. You can see him blossom every week, getting better and better, more confident and more confident. He’s everything we thought he’d be.” (Pro Football Talk)
Per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, while Panthers QB Cam Newton was placed on injured reserve with a foot injury, evaluators are also concerned about Newton’s shoulder which has been repaired twice in the past three seasons.
One scout estimated Newton had only 80-85 percent of his usual velocity in the season opener this year: “Part of what makes him great is the vertical threat with that arm. You hope that he regains that. His game is so much about power. Loss in arm strength would be a concern.”
A team source told Fowler the Panthers’ next head coach would have a big say in who their quarterback is.
Fowler adds the team can take its time exploring its options, including a trade, though one executive told Fowler he wouldn’t give up more than a third-round pick for Newton because he was “damaged merchandise.”
Fowler notes the team is still evaluating QB Kyle Allen as a long-term option and will continue to do so through the end of the season.
If Newton ends up being released, a league source expects him to sign a deal with an average yearly salary around $25 million as long as his shoulder is healthy.
The Athletic’s Joseph Person writes that while the Panthers don’t have to extend RB Christian McCaffrey this offseason, they should, and the new deal will likely make McCaffrey the highest-paid running back in football.
Person says Panthers DT Gerald McCoy will likely want a multi-year deal and should be a priority for Carolina given his impact as a veteran presence.
Person adds re-signing CB James Bradberry should also be a top priority for the Panthers.
Person notes Panthers OT Daryl Williams will likely not be an offseason priority, while G Greg Van Roten might return depending on his market.
Former first-round DT Vernon Butler isn’t expected to be back with the team despite a career year in the last year of his deal in 2019.
Person points out the Panthers could save $10 million against the cap by releasing DT Dontari Poe this offseason, though he played well with four sacks this season.
Panthers DE Mario Addison is also entering the final year of his contract and Person believes he deserves a raise from the $7.5 million he made this year.
Panthers LB Shaq Thompson is also playing out the last year of his deal and is due for a major contract extension after a career year in 2019.
Given their cap hits, it would be mild upsets if Panthers RB Mike Davis or WR Donte Moncrief were back with the team in 2020 despite being claimed off waivers by Carolina this season.
ESPN’s Rob Demovsky mentions former Packers HC Mike McCarthy as a potential option to keep an eye on as the Panthers’ next head coach, as both he and Panthers owner David Tepper are from Pittsburgh.
Steelers GM Kevin Colbert has also been connected to Carolina in scouting circles, as he knows Tepper from his time as a minority owner in Pittsburgh, per Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Saints have been mentioned as a potential dark horse to land Panthers QB Cam Newton if QB Drew Brees retires and Newton leaves Carolina.
The Saints worked out linebackers Mason Foster, Malcolm Smith and Manti Te’o (signed). (Aaron Wilson)