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Panthers Linked To Calvin Ridley As Free Agency Destination

The 2023 season was a disaster for the Carolina Panthers. Nothing they did in the offseason panned out, as they are set to undergo some major changes this offseason again. Their biggest order of business is finding another head coach.

Frank Reich made it through 11 games before he was fired in his first season as head coach. The team struggled mightily going 1-10 and things didn’t get much better under interim head coach Chris Tabor. He went 1-5 as the Panthers are in the search for a new regime for the second straight offseason.

The biggest move made last season, acquiring the No. 1 overall pick from the Chicago Bears and selecting Bryce Young, was also a major bust. Young struggled as the supporting cast around him was underwhelming.

NFL News & Rumors: Calvin Ridley, Jacksonville Jaguars, 2024 NFL Free Agency, Carolina Panthers Updates

Making matters worse, the No. 2 pick in the draft, C.J. Stroud, looks like a bonafide star with the Houston Texans. While the Panthers’ offseason has essentially been underway for months, Stroud and the Texans are preparing for a Divisional Round Matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.

For Carolina to experience that kind of turnaround, a lot of work will be needed this offseason. Upgrading the weapons around Young is a must if he is to have any chance at succeeding at this level. That is part of the reason Gordon McGuinness of PFF has suggested wide receiver Calvin Ridley as a player to pursue in free agency this offseason.

“It’s a huge offseason both for the Carolina Panthers and for the development of 2023 first-overall draft pick Bryce Young. If he is to take the big step forward required, he will need a separator at the wide receiver position. That’s where Ridley comes in. His first season with the Jaguars was up and down, but he still managed to finish the year with 1,016 yards on 76 receptions, earning a 72.2 PFF receiving grade in the process,” wrote McGuinness.

2023 was the first time Ridley had played since the 2021 season. He stepped away from football to handle some mental health issues and was then indefinitely suspended by the NFL for gambling on games.

To play at the level he did after such a long layoff is quite impressive. As McGuinness noted, there were some ups and downs, but Ridley produced rather well as the No. 1 receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

NFL News & Rumors: Calvin Ridley, Jacksonville Jaguars, 2024 NFL Free Agency, Carolina Panthers Updates

Adding him to their group of wide receivers would go wonders for the Panthers. Going into 2024 with Adam Thielen as the No. 1 option cannot happen. While Thielen played well in his first season in Carolina, he will be 34 when the season kicks off and his drop off in the second half of 2023 was concerning.

Pushing him into more of a complementary role with Ridley as the No. 1 option and improvement from youngsters such as 2023 second-round pick Jonathan Mingo, would be huge for Young’s development. Getting the most out of Young and improving the roster around him is the quickest way for things to get back on track for the Panthers.

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