The Panthers did the opposite of drafting for need on the third day of the NFL Draft, picking guys to the two of the deepest positions on their roster.
But by using a fifth-rounder on Iowa State linebacker A.J. Klein, and a sixth on Oregon running back Kenjon Barner, they gave themselves some flexibility in future seasons.
New Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman wasn’t able to make many significant changes this offseason because of contracts he inherited from the Marty Hurney administration. And he didn’t draft anyone to fix a bad secondary, or a developmental receiver.
But in 2014, when they’re a year removed from potentially crippling cap damages, they’ll be more able to take deals such as linebacker Jon Beason’s or running back DeAngelo Williams’s off the books, and Saturday’s picks offer cover.
Beason’s old contract extension became an albatross when he tore his Achilles in 2011 and then limped through knee and shoulder problems last year, and he’s playing outside now. Williams might have been the worst of their post-lockout splurges, as the Panthers were eager to shed a reputation for pre-lockout cheapness.
They’re still on the roster at the moment because they can play, but also in part because it would cost too much against the cap to cut them.
But with linebacker Luke Kuechly and running back Jonathan Stewart on hand, the Panthers are covered at Beason and Williams’ old spots for 2014, and Klein and Barner could step into bigger roles down the road, when the Panthers start sloughing off previous deals.