Defensive end Jared Allen announced on Twitter Thursday that he would be riding off into the sunset by literally riding off into the sunset. This now begs the question of how this changes, if at all, the Carolina Panthers' offseason plans?
The first thing Allen's retirement will affect is the team's salary cap situation. According to Spotrac, the Panthers currently have $16,630,220 in cap space and that number will now be much bigger heading into free agency next month. Allen was set to make $8,500,000 in 2016 however with none of that guaranteed, that entire salary now becomes available for the front office to use this offseason.
With the departed Allen, the front office will now have their work cut out for them to find his replacement on this defense. They essentially have three options where they don't make any moves and believes the replacement is already on the roster, add a player in free agency or through the draft.
There are some options on this roster who could step in for Allen, in particular Kony Ealy. The second-year defensive end is coming off a career game in the Super Bowl with three sacks, one interception and one forced fumble. While he wasn't the starter per say towards the end of the year, he does have plenty of playing time over his two years in the league. The front office has also been busy adding defensive ends with the additions of Wes Horton as well as signing Rakim Cox and Larry Webster to future contracts.
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If the Panthers want to add another player or two to their rotation then they would do this either through free agency or the NFL Draft. However, free agency typically can be rather costly, especially when it comes to pass rushers. There are a few intriguing options for this defense from former NY Giants Robert Ayers and George Selvie to players who haven't quite reached their potential like Da'Quan Bowers.
Aside from trading for a potential pass rusher, the only other option for the team would be to draft a pass rusher. This is not something Dave Gettleman has done a whole lot of, drafting only one defensive end in the three NFL Drafts he has run as general manager for the Panthers. That pick was Ealy who has shown flashes of from time to time of being a dominant pass rusher.
Whether the Panthers' address the position with the players currently on the roster, through free agency or the NFL Draft, one thing is clear that the team is well equipped to address the hole left by Allen's retirement.