The Buccaneers made it a point to get better on the defensive line this season. They now have a full two-deep depth chart of linemen who are paid to be contributors.
Presumably, the starters will be Jason Pierre-Paul, whose cap hits in Tampa over the next three years will equal $39.5 million; Vinny Curry, who just signed a $23 million contract; Gerald McCoy, who is playing out a $95.2 million deal; and Vita Vea, the 12th overall pick in the draft. Behind them is Noah Spence, a 2016 second-round pick; William Gholston, who is on a $27.5 million contract; Mitch Unrein, who signed a $10.5 million deal this offseason; and Beau Allen, who signed a $15 million contract this offseason.
Washington’s offensive tackle situation, with Trent Williams starting on the left and Morgan Moses starting on the right, is one of the best in the league. They also famously drafted right guard Brandon Scherff, who has made the last two Pro Bowls, as the fifth overall pick in 2015.
Last year, the Panthers shocked the football world by signing Matt Kalil, who peaked as a rookie with the Minnesota Vikings, to a five-year, $55 million contract. Kalil struggled last season, but the weight of his dead cap, which doesn’t even drop to seven figures ($9.8 million) until 2020, will keep him on the roster for a couple more years.
The issue is, the Panthers didn’t add any competition to Kalil’s position this offseason. Instead, they lost talent on the left side of the line, as guard Andrew Norwell signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Norwell, who signed a $66.5 million contract, is significantly more talented than Jeremiah Sirles, who is the projected starting left guard in Carolina.
A hole at left guard might just make the Panthers’ weakness at left tackle worse. Compounding offensive line issues, without adding talent, is not how you win in the NFL. In an NFC South in which the Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have added high draft picks and valuable veterans to their defensive lines over the last few seasons, quarterback Cam Newton may be in a world of trouble.