With a healthy season from key players returning from injury like MLB Jon Beason, OLB Thomas Davis and DT Ron Edwards, the Panthers believe they can begin closing the gap between their explosive offense and porous defense in 2012.
They have not shown interest in throwing a whole bunch of money at the problem this offseason — Carolina’s plan for upgrading on defense has yet to include any flashy personnel acquisitions. While some Panthers fans were hoping the team would sign a proven veteran starter in free agency to pair with Chris Gamble at cornerback, the team has not yet made any additions at the position.
If the Panthers make a marquee addition on defense this offseason, it’s expected to come through the draft, where the Panthers hold the ninth overall pick.
The Panthers also have needs on the defensive line, though, and GM Marty Hurney has not spent a pick earlier than a fourth-rounder on a player he envisioned using as a corner since 2006, when he selected Richard Marshall in the second round. Some in Carolina would like to see the Panthers land one of the top corners available in April’s draft, but if LSU’s Morris Claiborne doesn’t make an unexpected fall and end up being there for the taking when the Panthers pick, there won’t be a corner available that warrants such an early selection.
It’s part of the reason sources say they wouldn't be surprised if the Panthers poke around the thinning free-agent market at corner to see what kind of bargains are available.