Scott Fowler

Carolina Panthers free agent pickups: Not glamorous, but productive

Michael Oher is the closest thing to a big name the Panthers signed in free agency.
Michael Oher is the closest thing to a big name the Panthers signed in free agency. AP

The new players the Carolina Panthers have signed through free agency so far can be summed up in one word.

Who?

You need to be an NFL junkie to be familiar with names such as Jordan Todman, Jason Trusnik, Teddy Williams and Kurt Coleman. All of them are Panthers now – unknown but not unemployed.

The primary exception to this rule was Michael Oher, who is a relatively big name and should replace Byron Bell at left tackle. Oher happened to be the subject of the book and movie “The Blind Side.” Now the Panthers plan to create another reality show with Oher starring in the role of “Can I Keep Cam Newton From Getting Clobbered?”

In terms of name value, it is an unimpressive group. But I believe it fits with the Panthers’ philosophy. They have won back-to-back NFC South titles in large part because general manager Dave Gettleman, a scout at heart, grinds through tape constantly and has worked with his staff to unearth a number of underpriced gems from unlikely places.

Offensive tackle Mike Remmers, for instance, was a complete no-namer whose arrival late in the 2014 season – he was claimed off the St. Louis Rams’ practice squad – suddenly solidified a leaky offensive line.

More than anything, Carolina still needs another cornerback, a wide receiver and a left tackle. While Oher is supposed to be the short-term answer, he is not the long-term one. But those needs can be addressed with the first three or four picks of the draft.

What has been a little lost are the internal moves the Panthers have made to keep a number of contributors. Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen was locked up via contract extension. Ed Dickson, Colin Cole and Dwan Edwards all return.

It has not been a glamorous offseason so far for Carolina.

But it has been a productive one.

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