The 13-year veteran wide receiver was the Carolina Panthers number two wide receiver last year but could find himself looking for work at the end of training camp. Last season, he finished third on the team in receptions (48), targets (78) and receiving yards (580), behind only Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen.
Panthers’ GM Dave Gettleman has been very busy this offseason adding talent at wide receiver including Devin Funchess, Ted Ginn Jr. and Jarrett Boykin. However, Cotchery is getting close to the end of his career and the players mentioned above provides more value this season, as well as the future.
The wide receiver position is going to be incredibly competitive this training camp after Benjamin and Funchess, who I believe is locked in as the team’s number two. Cotchery is going to need to play at a high level to earn one of those remaining spots.
This is one player who I don’t believe the Panthers would want to release but if they need to find a roster spot, Joe Webb could be on the way out. Webb is incredibly versatile and is one of the reasons why the Panthers may not want to let him go. He is the team’s emergency/third string quarterback, has played some wide receiver and contributes on special teams.
However, the versatility may not be able to save Webb. The Panthers improved the wide receiver position as well as special teams this offseason with the additions of Jordan Todman, Teddy Williams and Jason Trusnik. They also have one of the more stable quarterback positions with former Pro Bowler Derek Anderson backing up Cam Newton.
Right now in my opinion, Webb seems to be a longshot to make the team.
This one could come as a surprise but it might be time for Panthers to look to the future. Tolbert will be 30 years of age by the end of this season and is coming off one of his worst statistical seasons. He missed half the season due to injury and had his lowest career yards per attempt average of 2.1. Also for the first time since 2008, he failed to score a rushing touchdown.
Tolbert is a bit of a Swiss Army knife in the backfield as a player who can do it all. He is able to run the ball as well as catch it effectively out of backfield. He has made a career of being able to pick up those tough yards but he wasn’t able to show that last season.
The Panthers have a player on the roster who could be the future of the fullback position in Lee Ward. The undrafted rookie out of Stanford proved to be a great lead blocker at the collegiate level. The one thing Ward will need to prove in training camp is can he do what Tolbert does in terms of running the ball occasionally and catching it out of the backfield.
In three seasons at Stanford, he has one rushing attempt and only four receptions. This is the biggest unknown for the Panthers but if Ward can impress the coaching staff, Tolbert’s days in Carolina may be numbered.
Follow me on Twitter @BrandonCroce.