ESPN predicts Panthers WR Curtis Samuel signs with Washington

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Tim Weaver
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The Panthers have three important pending free agents on offense this year. Right tackle Taylor Moton should be at the top of general manager Scott Fitterer’s list for a contract extension. Left tackle Russell Okung can be allowed to walk as long as Fitterer has a real plan to replace him. Wide receiver Curtis Samuel is the third and most difficult to predict as to where he will play in 2021.

Samuel is a versatile and underrated playmaker who is worth keeping around. Unfortunately, former GM Marty Hurney’s failure to extend him before now makes it more difficult to sign him to a long-term deal. It’s possible Carolina can’t compete with the kinds of offers Samuel will get if he hits the market. One landing spot that makes a lot of sense is the Washington Football Team, which would reunite Samuel with Hurney and former Carolina head coach Ron Rivera.

Bill Barnwell at ESPN predicts Samuel will sign a four-year, $46 million deal with Washington.

“There’s a valuable player in here, and the first folks in the NFL to notice that aren’t in Carolina anymore. Coach Ron Rivera and general manager Marty Hurney are in Washington, which doesn’t have much on the depth chart at wide receiver beyond Terry McLaurin and Cam Sims. Antonio Gibson was really mostly a traditional running back in 2020, so Samuel could step in as the second wideout and the guy who creates havoc moving around the formation in the Washington offense alongside J.D. McKissic.”

Signing Samuel would make Washington’s passing game more potent, especially if they were to also add former Panthers QB Cam Newton – who had a strong chemistry with No. 10. Hurney releasing Cam last year may harvest some sour grapes, but Newton qualifies as a significant upgrade over Alex Smith and WFT has to seriously consider it.

Back to Samuel. This past season he posted some impressive career-high numbers, including receiving yards (851), catch rate (79.4%) and yards per target (8.8). He only scored five touchdowns from scrimmage though, down from seven in both 2018 and 2019.

Samuel’s numbers would almost certainly have been bigger if he didn’t have to share so many targets with D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson, who tended to run the deeper routes that had previously been Samuel’s cup of tea. If Samuel returns, offensive coordinator Joe Brady should try to get him more involved, even if Christian McCaffrey is available all 16 games.

If Samuel does rejoin Rivera, he’d be a rock-solid No. 2 option behind Terry McClaurin.

The Giants are another possibility. Former Panthers GM Dave Gettleman drafted Samuel back in 2017 and New York needs wide receivers even more than Washington.

As for the Panthers, replacing Samuel wouldn’t be easy but there are a few free agents worth a look, including Sammy Watkins and Will Fuller.

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