Top NeedsWide receiver: The Panthers need a playmaker to take pressure off Steve Smith even after the addition of Muhammad. Keary Colbert and Drew Carter are both free agents, so the Panthers could look to replace both. Look for them to address this need in free agency, rather than the draft. It's hard to count on a rookie to make an immediate impact at this spot. Just look at Dwayne Jarrett. A possibility is Seattle's D.J. Hackett
Defensive end: Mike Rucker wants to come back and play another season, but even if he re-signs with Carolina they still need to upgrade and add youth here. Neither Stanley McClover nor Charles Johnson showed they were ready to step into a starting role in '07. In fact, even if Rucker were to return for a victory tour next season, the Panthers should still make upgrading this spot a huge priority.
Free safety. Deke Cooper did a decent job filling in last season, but he's not going to scare many offensive coordinators. Besides, he's a free agent so there's no assurance he'll be back. Nate Salley is returning from knee surgery, but the Panthers could really use a veteran ball hawking safety that causes turnovers and brings the same type of attitude to the defense that Chris Harris did this season.
Defensive Tackle. After trading former Pro Bowler Kris Jenkins to the Jets, the Panthers are a bit thin at defensive tackle with Ma'ake Kemoeatu and Damione Lewis as the only players currently on the roster. Talks have been ongoing with Rod Coleman, formerly of the Falcons.
Running Back. DeAngelo Williams is ready to take over the lead back role, but the Panthers want to add another back as insurance. Look for the Panthers to add one through the draft and free agency.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: OT Jordan Gross (tendered $7.455M).
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--WR Drew Carter has great speed, but never developed into a consistent receiver, largely because of his questionable hands. Still, the team might try to bring him back.
--FS Deke Cooper played well after being tossed into the starting lineup following an injury to Nate Salley. Cooper may want to explore the market, but look for the Panthers to make a run at bringing him back.
--CB Curtis Deloatch was brought in as a fourth cornerback before injuring his knee. He is not considered a top priority.
--TE Christian Fauria was brought in to be a mentor to the younger tight ends on the roster. His job is done and at age 36 he may be ready to retire.
--SS Marquand Manuel was signed for depth at safety. Don't expect him to return.
--LB Terence Melton was supposed to help out on special teams but tore up his knee in the preseason and went on IR. He still could return for a minimum contract.
--DT Kindal Moorehead has always been a role player for the Panthers and it's conceivable he could return at a bargain price, although he will likely explore the market first.
--DE Mike Rucker wants to play again but if he returns it might be as a backup. Recently stated he is considering retirement.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--OG Geoff Hangartner (tendered at $1.417M with 2nd-round pick as compensation) is a decent lineman who has good skills. A potential starter in the league down the road.
--OT Evan Mathis (tendered at $927,000 with 3rd-round pick as compensation) started 15 games in 2006 but went back to a reserve role last year. A mountain of a man who could play for other teams.
--LB Adam Seward (tendered at $927,000 with 5th-round pick as compensation) is a backup linebacker who plays mostly on special teams. A little slow to be a full-time linebacker.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--LB Brandon Jamison has made a career out of being a special teams guy.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED --WR Muhsin Muhammad: FA Bears; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--CB Ricardo Colclough will compete at CB but more importantly will provide some stability on Special Teams as a returner and gunner.FA Browns, 2 yrs, $4 million.
--QB Brett Basanez: Potential ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR Jason Carter: Potential ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB Donte Curry: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown
--RB Alex Haynes: Potential ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--FB Brad Hoover: UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--DT Damione Lewis: Potential UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--S Nate Salley: ERFA; terms unknown.
--CB Dante Wesley: Potential UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--OT Travelle Wharton: Potential UFA; $36M/6 yrs, $12M guaranteed.
--DB C.J. Wilson: potential ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--QB David Carr (released).
--RB DeShaun Foster (released).
--DT Kris Jenkins (traded Jets).
--LB Dan Morgan (released).
--QB Vinny Testaverde (UFA; retired).
--OG Mike Wahle (released).