Ranking all 6 NFL GM openings; Where do the Lions land?

Detroit Lions (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
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Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) /

2) Carolina Panthers (5-11)

  • owner: David Tepper
  • head coach: Matt Rhule
  • projected ’21 cap space: $16,995,770 (17th in NFL)
  • projected ’21 draft pick: 8th-overall pick

The next two franchises set themselves apart from the other four GM openings by not having an interim head coach or one on his way out. Matt Rhule should be the man on the Carolina sidelines next season and will also have some say in personnel matters as well, unlike most other organizations. Though, it gets harder to lure general managers from other teams when you’re offering less personnel authority than they currently have.

Carolina is in a position with the eighth pick to maybe take a franchise quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater is under contract for two more years with a friendly $5 million dead-cap in his final year. Making this an ideal pick and sit situation for a young quarterback, as I don’t think they’ll be in this draft position in 2022.

You could argue the Panthers have the best young roster top-to-bottom of the six teams. Starting on offense with the best running back and offensive weapon in football, Christian McCaffrey, and third-year wide receiver D.J. Moore.

On defense, they have young talents like rookie defensive tackle Derrick Brown and safety Jeremy Chinn. To go along with edge rushers Brian Burns and Yetur Gross-Matos.

They also have the advantage of not changing schemes, no complete rebuild, etc. Despite their record, I think Carolina is the closest of the six to competing right now.

Ownership: Tepper is a bit more hands-on than most of the other owners on this ranking, something that may be a deterrent to some GM candidates. But he’s also been largely successful, a situation like Carolina really depends on the relationship between the two parties.