Panthers Should Target Ricky Wagner in Free Agency
Ricky Wagner is going to be one of the most prized offensive line free agents. Should the Carolina Panthers pay the price for a star right tackle?
Among all free agent tackles, Ricky Wagner is likely to be the most sought after and the Carolina Panthers need to be in the mix. Wagner has been a consistent starter for the Baltimore Ravens for the past three seasons on what has been a talented offensive line. Last season, Wagner was graded out as the 19th best overall tackle in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Ravens would like to sign him back, but his price tag may be a bit out of the teams reach. Their salary cap is tied into other positions and they may not have the guns to get into a bidding war. If Wagner does leave for free agency, the Panthers should pay the price.
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The Panthers offensive line was a bit of a disaster last season. There was zero continuity and most of the struggles came down to both tackle positions. Michael Oher has a serious concussion that has had him in the protocol for about five months. On top of that, Mike Remmers is a free agent. The tackle position was already a weakness and when you take away two starters it becomes a glaring hole.
What is most impressive about Wagner is his ability to pass block. Even though he is on the right side, plenty of strong pass rushers will be going against Wagner. Vic Beasley, the NFC South’s newest star pass rusher will be lining up on right tackles for the majority of his snaps. To have a stud opposite him for years to come appears to be necessary.
The Panthers have been frivolous to spend but have a lot of cap space. There is an anticipation that Mario Addison may not return and if Kawann Short is franchised tagged, they will likely have more space to play with in the near future. They have some depth on the defensive line and to push some of the money from that unit to the offensive line would be a smart decision in protecting Cam Newton, the franchise quarterback.
Now is the time to spend and build a team around Newton. Wagner is the smartest and safest option, coming almost certainly at a high price, but filling a major need.