Carolina Panthers

With numbers crunched, Panthers' remaining targets easy to predict

CHARLOTTE -- The Panthers still have a load of offseason work to do, but at some spots, what you see is what they'll take to Spartanburg.

The Panthers have filled 61 of their allowed 80 offseason roster spots. Without roster-exempt NFL Europe allocations to fill out the practice lines, they'll have to tighten up from what they've typically taken to training camp, meaning some of the positions on the depth chart are already filled.

They can bring in a few extra players for minicamp and coaching sessions, since draft picks can practice then but don't count against the roster limit until they sign. That would allow them up to 88 players in May and June if they keep all their current picks.

With what's left, it's easy to see what the remaining signings will entail.

They currently have just nine offensive linemen and seven defensive linemen under contract. They usually take at least 15 and 14, respectively, to camp, so they can run three separate lines of big guys through practice drills.

Reaching those quotas would take 13 of the available 19 spots on the final 80-man, making the other additions scarce. Figure another quarterback, another running back, another tight end and scattering the other spots with an extra tight end/fullback and defensive backs, and that's it.

As trifling as it sounds, the additional bodies they were able to bring to camp with the NFL Europe exemptions were helpful, especially for receivers and defensive backs, since they're the guys doing the most running under the summer sun. But they're sitting on 10 of each now, and there isn't going to be enough room for many more additions, particularly at the talented and deep wideout position.

There's been some talk around the league that the owners might discuss relaxing the offseason limit to offset the lost NFL Europe bodies, but that would require them paying extra guys -- making it no sure thing.

• GOOD FAITH GESTURE: According to those in the room, tackle Jordan Gross was among the majority of the team that showed up last week for the beginning of offseason workouts.

But he didn't sign his franchise tender until Thursday, meaning he was taking a degree of risk by lifting and running with his teammates. The one-year, $7.455 million deal became guaranteed with his signature, but could have been rescinded at any point before then.

Hypothetically speaking, if he had gotten himself hurt before signing the contract, the Panthers could have stuck it in a shredder and pretended it never existed.

They likely wouldn't, since he's a valued veteran and a guy they want to keep long term. But if you're tallying up points for classy moves, put a few up for Gross for doing something he didn't have to, for the sake of trying to lend leadership to an offensive line in flux.

• DT HELP STILL AVAILABLE: Figure the Panthers to sign a veteran defensive tackle or two before the draft, and there are actually a decent number of qualified applicants available.

They've had Darwin Walker and Ian Scott in for visits, and they're both still available. So is Rod Coleman, who came here early, but it doesn't sound like he's physically ready to play.

Other able veterans still on the market include Larry Triplett, Grady Jackson, Sam Adams, Ted Washington and Keith Traylor, even though some of those guys won't be in shape to play for a few months. As thin as some spots are in free agency, there's a good handful of guys who can play.

• NUMEROLOGY: Times change, and so does the roster. It's still going look strange next year when the Panthers take the field and number 55 is Donte Curry, and not Dan Morgan.

That's just one of the jersey changes this offseason, as the new guys and incumbents pick through the discarded numbers for a new identity.

The 75 vacated by center Justin Hartwig now belongs to defensive end Stanley McClover (who gave up 74). Mike Wahle's 68 will now be worn by guard Keydrick Vincent. The old 18 of Drew Carter now belongs to D.J. Hackett (with the hopes he can do more than run straight downfield, and catch the ball occasionally).

Since the Panthers were out of 50s, new linebacker Landon Johnson took the 94 vacated by defensive tackle Kindal Moorehead. Running back LaBrandon Toefield slid into safety Nate Salley's old 33, since Salley had chosen to take 25 earlier. Center Ryan Kalil switched to his college number 67, from last year's 65.

Nobody had a bigger bump than tight end Jeff King, who surrendered 87 to Muhsin Muhammad, and dropped into 47. At least King got paid (an undisclosed amount) for the move.

• EXTRA POINTS: The addition of Hackett last week is going to make for some interesting game-day decisions on who's active. They usually carry four receivers into each game, and assuming Steve Smith, Hackett and Muhammad are up, there's one spot left for Dwayne Jarrett, Ryne Robinson and the rest of a solid group. That they brought in a cornerback who can return kicks (Ricardo Colclough) could mean the fourth wideout doesn't have to be a special teams exclusive player. That helps, but it's still going to be a weekly drama if everyone stays healthy.

As it stands today, the Panthers have filled 61 of the 80 roster spots they'll be allowed to take to training camp. Numbers dictate that certain positions are close to filled, if not closed. A look at how many they've got at each spot:

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