The Carolina Panthers currently have a lot of question marks, most notably which quarterback the team will take at No. 1 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft after trading up nine spots to do so.
But that uncertainty isn’t stopping rookie catcher Adam Thielen from dreaming big.
“I wanted to go to a place where I felt like I had a chance to win a Super Bowl,” Thielen said Monday on The Pat McAfee Show. “When I went there, I sat down with the coach [Frank Reich]I sat down with [General Manager Scott Fitterer]I sat down with the entire coaching staff, and I felt like Carolina was the place to do it.
“I feel like there’s a real chance to win a Super Bowl, and I’m really excited about that.”
Thielen also referenced several other veteran free agents the Panthers have recently signed to help their offense, including quarterback Andy Dalton, running back Miles Sanders and tight end Hayden Hurst, and hinted that there more additions on the way.
“I know they’re talking to a couple more receivers that could really help,” Thielen said.
[2023 NFL free-agency tracker: Signings, best players available]
As confident as Thielen is, it’s worth noting that the Panthers are pretty much starting from scratch on offense in everything from coaching to personnel. Reich, an offense-minded coach and former Panthers quarterback, has brought in well-regarded quarterback mentors Jim Caldwell and Josh McCown as top assistants as he prepares for his first season as the head coach of Carolina. And as part of the trade with the Bears for the first overall pick in April’s draft, Fitterer dealt DJ Moore, the team’s leading receiver, to Chicago.
Will Anderson Jr., CJ Stroud and Hendon Hooker in Joel Klatt’s 2023 NFL Draft Top 50 Players
Moore, 25, posted more than 1,000 receiving yards each season from 2019 to 2021, and his per-target averages remained consistent in 2022, though his overall yardage dipped as the Panthers went through three starting marshals. By comparison, the 32-year-old Thielen — apparently signed to replace Moore — hasn’t topped 1,000 receiving yards since 2018.
Thielen had spent his entire nine-year NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings before being released by his hometown team in early March. He made back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2017 and 2018.
Fitterrer and Reich confirmed to local media on Monday that the Panthers will select one of the four consensus top quarterbacks in the draft with the No. 1 pick: Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, Florida’s Anthony Richardson or Will Levis from Kentucky.
[R.J. Young: C.J. Stroud and the Carolina Panthers are the perfect match at No. 1]
CJ Stroud or Bryce Young: Who is the preferred #1 pick?
Despite the steep climb that appears to be facing the Panthers, it’s not uncommon for a team to make a surprise playoff run shortly after being selected first overall in the draft. The Jacksonville Jaguars just reached the divisional round last season with young quarterback Trevor Lawrence in his first year under head coach Doug Pederson, Reich’s former boss with the Philadelphia Eagles, after finishing with the worst record in the NFL in both 2020 and 2021.
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