David Tepper finally gets in position to fix Carolina quarterback problem

Panthers owner David Tepper said several years ago in the latest episode of his team’s turn against the deceased All or nothing series on Amazon that the NFL is set up for each team to cluster around .500, and the difference comes in having the right quarterback.

“This league should be an 8-8 league,” Tepper said at the time. “Everything is fair in this league. So if you have better coaches, better GMs, advantages with facilities, advantages with training, management process, whatever, whatever, you know, analytics, whatever whether it’s to give you an edge, that’s what you need. And you need a good quarterback.

Tepper, for five years as the team’s owner, couldn’t get one. Now, with a bold move to first place on the first lap, he has a shot at getting one.

This is one of the advantages of the project. Rarely, if ever, do the best prospects pass on their assigned destinations. And there’s no reason to think that will happen to the Panthers, not with Frank Reich as coach and a staff that will turn a young quarterback into the franchise player the Panthers haven’t had since Cam Newton was at its peak. They still have to make the right decision.

Twelve years after Newton arrived via the No. 1 pick, the Panthers get another shot at a franchise guy. Of course, they could decide that multiple players fit the bill, allowing them to trade, grab assets, and still find a guy they believe in. It won’t be an easy decision, given that the drop rate of the top 10 quarterbacks remains significant.

Just five years ago, four quarterbacks made the top 10 picks. Only one of the four – Josh Allen – ended up being a proven winner. Of the other three, the Panthers have employed two (Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold). Neither worked.

So now, with just under 50 days until the draft, the Panthers are going to get down to figuring out how many guys they really believe can become a franchise guy. Whether they stay up and pick first or slide down and take the second or maybe the third option (like Allen was), there’s a very real risk of it all going wrong.

Get it right, and the Panthers could become perennial contenders. Don’t, and they might become a laughingstock.

Either way, Tepper’s game had to be aggressive. And it’s good. Now the real work begins. They have to make the best projection possible based on top quarterbacks, and they have to hope that the one they get is the one they need to topple the franchise.

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