Left tackle has been Carolina's Achilles heel since Jordan Gross retired after the 2013 season. The Panthers experimented a moving Byron Bell from right tackle to the left and plug and playing the right tackle spot in his absence. It was a disaster.
Dave Gettleman then tried to re-tread Michael Oher, who had struggled in Tennessee after leaving the Ravens. Many were skeptical of Oher’s potential given his struggles. An offseason surgery afforded a sort of renaissance for Oher. He was a clear upgrade from Bell and offered some consistency in pass protection. He was never a great run-blocker, but that didn’t matter as Cam Newton led the league’s most explosive offense to the Super Bowl. Although Oher struggled in the Super Bowl, he looked to be a serviceable option moving forward.
Oher suffered a season-ending concussion early in 2016, once again highlighting Carolina’s deficiencies at offensive tackle. Mike Remmers, a nobody who Carolina got to be a somebody at right tackle, replaced Oher. Remmers had gone from a nobody to the most infamous Carolina Panther since Byron Bell.
As Carolina looks to rebound in 2017, fans are wondering just how Dave Gettleman if and how Dave Gettleman will address what has been a fundamental weakness of Carolina’s offense. He’s resisted drafting a tackle early since he’s been Carolina’s GM. With the highest pick of his tenure, fans are wondering if it is finally the year the Panthers commit their draft resources to franchise left tackle.
Today, the New York Jets announced they would be moving on from Ryan Clady, the former Denver Bronco, four-time Pro Bowler, and two-time All-Pro. Clady spent most of his time in New York injured, and that was after missing 30 of his last 48 games in Denver. Clady could be an interesting option to add some depth to the Panthers offensive line given the uncertainty of Michael Oher’s playing future. Unfortunately, Clady wouldn’t bring more than a nice reputation from years past given his continued struggle with injuries over the past four years.
Jaguars are not picking up LT Kelvin Beachum's option, sources say. So like Ryan Clady, he's headed to the free-agent market.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 16, 2017
Jacksonville also announced they would be parting ways with Kelvin Beachum after acquiring him in free agency just one year ago. Beachum was a 7th round pick by the Steelers, who spent most of his time in Pittsburgh at left tackle. He’s seen some time on the right side as well. He’s another depth option that Carolina could look to add.
Neither of these guys would be the solution to Carolina’s problems. The Panthers, however, have gambled at left tackle over the past three years. They put all their chips on a guy like Bell who had never played the position. When that bet lost, they pushed all their chips on a player who was coming off of injury and just hadn’t played all that well in past years. The risk in both of these bets was that Gettleman didn’t back the bets with any real depth. They were either going to pay big or lose bigger.
Will Dave Gettleman bet big on Oher again? Will he push his chips in the draft? Or will he back his bets with a little insurance by adding a veteran like Clady or Beachum? Let us know what you think. Leave a comment!
By the Professor, aka Tony Dunn
Follow @Cat_Chronicles for the latest Panthers news and opinions from the fan perspective.