While the Carolina Panthers lost All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman to the Washington Redskins this offseason, they’re not going to look towards free agency to replace him, at least not now.
Head coach Ron Rivera said on Saturday (via Joseph Person, Charlotte Observer) that the team is happy with what they’ve seen from rookies James Bradberry, Daryl Worley and Zack Sanchez.
“I guess if we did do something it would be later on. But right now we’re set,” Rivera said Saturday. “We’re very happy with what we’ve seen the last two practices with the young guys.”
The list of available corners is not a bad one, especially for this late in the offseason. If the Panthers did choose to go that route, players like Leon Hall, Jerraud Powers, Chris Culliver and Antonio Cromartie would be available to target.
While the prospect of replacing Norman would seem daunting, Carolina is wise to not spend a lot of money on a free agent.
Carolina racked up the sixth-most sacks in 2015 with 44. There’s no good reason to think that they won’t be similarly dominant in 2016. A pass rush that good can help cover up a lot of the deficiencies that would normally be exposed with rookie corners is what’s in the offering here.
Additionally, with linebackers like Luke Kuechly in coverage, the Panthers can afford to use extra defensive backs in coverage to double whichever receivers would have been Norman’s responsibility.
While they won’t find an individual as good as Norman, Carolina’s team defense can make up for his absence.
For now, the Panthers are well advised to stay in house.