With the new league year just around the corner, NFL teams are in the final stages of preparation for what will be, as it always is, a wild start to free agency. For the Carolina Panthers and new General Manager David Gettleman, a veteran cornerback and youth at wide receiver appear to be the focus. And because of his New York Giants ties, the Panthers could (and likely will) take a long, hard look at free agents Domenik Hixon and Ramses Barden.
The Charlotte Observer reported on Monday that expectations are that the Panthers sign not just one, but both of the Giants' free agent wide receivers.
Given his ties to the organization, expect Gettleman to bring in a couple of former Giants. New York has a pair of free agent wideouts who are 28 or younger – Domenik Hixon and Ramses Barden. Hixon has more experience and has been productive in a part-time role. But the 6-foot-6, 224-pound Barden is the type of big, physical receiver who could thrive in the Panthers’ vertical passing game.
Barden acknowledged last week that it's "probably best" to move on from the Giants, but Hixon has sung a different tune. In early January, the veteran wideout said he's learned from some of his former teammates that the grass isn't always greener on the other side, and that he'd like to remain with the team.
For Barden, a move to Carolina may be exactly what the doctor ordered. And of all the teams in the league, the Panthers are perhaps the most intimately familiar with the former third-round pick, whose only career start came against them in week three of last season. He hauled an impressive nine reception for 138 yards, and proved he can compete in this league if given the right opportunity.
Team can begin negotiating with free agents on March 8th and then officially sign them on March 12th, so we'll have a better indication of how serious the Panthers are about these two on Friday.
Also…Carolina, Carolina Panthers, David Gettleman, Domenik Hixon, Football, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Ramses Barden