The Carolina Panthers had a pretty bad day.
It started like this:
NFL (@NFL) August 19, 2015
Then the injury, originally diagnosed as a sprain, turned into this:
NFL (@NFL) August 19, 2015
Word around the league is that Benjamin was one of least affordable players that any team could lose, so obviously this is a huge deal. It’s also brutal news for Cam Newton, who relies heavily on Benjamin with Carolina’s thin receiving core.
So where do Cam and the Panthers turn from here? The next three names on the depth chart at WR are Devin Funchess, Philly Brown and Jerricho Cotchery … so right now this is looking like a realistic option.
In all seriousness, the Panthers have a solid chance at winning their division. We can likely count the Buccaneers out in the NFC South, but Carolina is right in the mix with Atlanta and New Orleans. Of course, they’re likely going to need a new WR if they want to maintain their chances.
Here’s a couple of ideas.
Vincent Jackson — WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Trading within the division is rare, but this move could make sense for both sides. As I mentioned, the Bucs aren’t going to contend right now. They need to find several pieces to place around Jameis Winston while he develops until that happens. Taking away a WR arguably hurts Winston, but Jackson is past his prime. Winston’s top target will be Mike Evans, and the team may want to try and find more young WRs to fit into their system.
For Carolina it’s a perfect fit. Down goes one big, strong, fast WR, and here comes another one. Jackson probably isn’t as good as Benjamin, but if you part with a draft pick to get him this season while Benjamin is out, then you could have both of them in Cam’s toolbox next season.
Brandon LaFell — WR, New England Patriots
Obviously, LaFell is not Vincent Jackson, but he is a WR with size that also has experience in Carolina’s system with Newton at QB. He was a valuable weapon at times for Tom Brady last season, but he’d be far more valuable to Newton this season. The Pats aren’t looking to move him, but if the desperate Panthers make an offer that Belichick likes, The Hoodie is always open to exploring all options.
Reggie Wayne — WR, Free Agent
This one’s a stretch, but hear me out. Wayne could provide the Panthers with a temporary fix — he’ll turn 37 in November and is seeking a one-year deal. Wayne’s name came up around the Bears organization when the news about the extent of Kevin White’s injury surfaced, but Wayne only wants to play for a contender. It might be a reach, but Reggie could consider the Panters contenders and long as they’re in the hunt for the division. Honestly, I don’t know why Wayne isn’t a Patriot yet, but since he isn’t, maybe a feature role in Carolina would interest him (or in classic Belichick fashion, he trades LaFell to Carolina then signs Wayne).
Find me on Twitter @julianedlow