In my endless research of all things football and through my passion for the history of the NFL, I have decided to try and compile an All-Time Team for all 32 current NFL franchises. By All-Time Team I mean a starting roster compiled of the very best players to ever put on each franchise’s jersey. I will be starting in alphabetical order by current franchise location, so Arizona Cardinals all the way to The Washington Football Team, with the goal of releasing one to two All-Time teams a week for the duration of the current NFL season. This is meant to be fun and cause some debate and is based on my opinion after all my research and deep dives into each franchise’s history. Of course, not everyone will agree with who I chose, and I’d love to hear from anyone who agrees or disagrees, but first, let’s lay out some ground rules for how I came up with each team.
1. Each team roster will consist of the following:
Offense - 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 2 OT, 2 OG, 1 C
Defense - 2 DE, 2 DT, 3 LB, 2 CB, 2 S
Special Teams - 1 K, 1 P, 1 Returner
Coach - 1 Head Coach
2. I only considered an individual’s stats and contributions with each specific franchise. For example, Peyton Manning’s years with the Broncos were not considered when deciding on the starting QB of the Colts All-Time Team. As a result, the stats and awards listed with each individual player are only those that were achieved with that specific franchise.
3. A player cannot represent two teams as the starter. Players who spent time with more than one team were considered for the franchise they spent the most time with or had the most impact on. This rule led to some interesting scenarios that I will discuss in detail with each specific article to try and clear up any confusion.
4. A player’s stats and impact were considered in context with their era. This won’t simply be a listing of who passed or ran for the most yards in franchise history.
5. All stats are from Pro-Football-Reference and through the 2021 season. I will also be counting sacks from 1960, though the NFL doesn't officially count sacks until 1982.
6. Players in the "Honorable Mentions" section are ordered by year. It's not an indication of where I believe they rank in franchise history.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!
Carolina Panthers All-Time Team
First Season: 1995
Record: 205-227-1 (47.45 W-L%)
Playoff Record: 9-8
Super Bowls Won: 0 (Lost in 2003 and 2015)
Passing Leader: Cam Newton 2,440/4,106 | 29,725 Yds | 186 TD
Rushing Leader: Jonathan Stewart 1,699 Att | 7,318 Yds | 51 TD
Receiving Leader: Steve Smith 836 Rec | 12,197 Yds | 67 TD
Sack Leader: Julius Peppers 97 Sk
Interception Leader: Chris Gamble 27 Int
Scoring Leader: John Kasay 1,482 Points
Winningest Coach: Ron Rivera 76-63-1
QB: Cam Newton (2011-2019, 2021)
Record: 68-60-1 | 59.4 Cmp% | 29,725 Yds | 186 TD | 113 Int | 5,036 Rush Yds | 63 Rush TD | Led League in Rush Yds/Att 2011 (5.6) | 3x Pro-Bowl (11, 13, 15) | 1x All-Pro (15) | 2015 MVP | 2015 Offensive Player of the Year | 2015 Bert Bell | 2011 Offensive Rookie of the Year | 2015 NFC Champion
Cam Newton is the choice at quarterback for the All-Time Panthers. He won more games than any other quarterback in Panthers history and was one of the best dual threat quarterbacks of all time. He is the NFL's all-time leader in rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. He was on his way to a potentially Hall of Fame career before a sudden drop off in play and is now struggling to stick with a team. He was 2011 Offensive Rookie of the Year and voted to three Pro-Bowls and one All-Pro Team. His 2015 season was one of the most dominant by a player at any position ever. Newton threw for 3,837 yards, 35 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He added 636 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing to account for 45 total touchdowns. Newton was named MVP and lead the Panthers to a 15-1 record, unfortunately they lost in the Super Bowl.
Kerry Collins (1995-1998) | Record: 22-20 | 51.8 Cmp% | 8,306 Yds | 47 TD | 54 Int | 217 Rush Yds | 4 Rush TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (96)
Steve Beuerlein (1996-2000) | Record: 23-28 | 60.4 Cmp% | 12,690 Yds | 86 TD | 50 Int | 305 Rush Yds | 3 Rush TD | Led League in Cmp% 1998 (63%) | Led League in Yds 1999 (4,436) | Led League in Yds/G 1999 (277.3) | Led League in Completions 1999 (343) | 1x Pro-Bowl (99)
Jake Delhomme (2003-2009) | Record: 53-37 | 59.2 Cmp% | 19,258 Yds | 120 TD | 89 Int | 260 Rush Yds | 5 Rush TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (05) | 2003 NFC Champion
RB: DeAngelo Williams (2006-2014)
4.8 Yds/A | 6,846 Yds | 46 TD | 178 Rec | 1,621 Rec Yds | 7 Rec TD | Led League in TD 2008 (18) | Led League in RRTD 2008 (20) | 1x Pro-Bowl (09)
DeAngelo Williams is the first half of one of the best running back duos in NFL history. Williams is number two in franchise history in yards and touchdowns. His best season came in 2008 where he led the league in rushing touchdowns and combined rushing and receiving touchdowns with 18 and 20 respectively, but he somehow didn't make the Pro-Bowl that season. His lone Pro-Bowl season came in 2009.
RB: Jonathan Stewart (2008-2017)
4.3 Yds/A | 7,318 Yds | 51 TD | 162 Rec | 1,295 Rec Yds | 7 Rec TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (15)
Jonathan Stewart is the other half of that rushing duo mentioned above. He and Williams spent the majority of their careers together in Carolina. They combined for one of the best rushing seasons in NFL history when they both went over 1,000 yards in 2009. Stewart is the franchise record holder in yards and touchdowns and made his lone Pro-Bowl season in 2015. If Christian McCaffrey can manage to stay healthy, he may one day take one of these spots, but currently he's only been able to put together three full seasons.
Stephen Davis (2003-2005) | 4.0 Yds/A | 2,085 Yds | 20 TD | 21 Rec | 236 Rec Yds | 1x Pro-Bowl (03)
Mike Tolbert (2012-2016) | 3.4 Yds/A | 992 Yds | 13 TD | 94 Rec | 771 Rec Yds | 6 Rec TD | 3x Pro-Bowl (13, 15, 16) | 2x All-Pro (13, 15)
Christian McCaffrey (2017-Present) | 4.6 Yds/A | 3,587 Yds | 30 TD | 357 Rec | 3,015 Rec Yds | 17 Rec TD | Led League in YScm 2019 (2,392) | Led League in RRTD 2019 (19) | 1x Pro-Bowl (19) | 1x All-Pro (19)
WR: Steve Smith (2001-2013)
836 Rec | 12,197 Yds | 67 TD | Led League in Yds/R 2005 (14.8) | Led League in Rec 2005 (103) | Led League in Yds 2005 (1,563) | Led League in TD 2005 (12) | Led League in Yds/G 2008 (101.5) | 5x Pro-Bowl (01, 05, 06, 08, 11) | 2x All-Pro (01, 05) | 2005 Comeback Player of the Year
Steve Smith is up for the Hall of Fame this year and I believe he should be a first ballot selection. At only 5'9 he still managed to have one of the best careers for a wide receiver ever. He is first in franchise history in receptions, yards and touchdowns. Smith also currently ranks 12th in receptions, eighth in yards and 28th in touchdowns in NFL history. He had seven 1,000-yard seasons with the Panthers with his best season coming in 2005 where he led the league in receptions, yards and touchdowns and was named to the Pro-Bowl, All-Pro Team and Comeback Player of the Year. Smith will without a doubt one day be immortalized in the Hall of Fame.
WR: Muhsin Muhammad (1996-2004, 2008-2009)
696 Rec | 9,255 Yds | 50 TD | Led League in Rec 2000 (102) | Led League in Yds 2004 (1,405) | Led League in TD 2004 (16) | Led League in Yds/G 2004 (87.8) | 2x Pro-Bowl (99, 04) | 1x All-Pro (04)
Before Smith, and for a few years at the same time, the go to wide receiver in Carolina was Muhsin Muhammad. He held all the franchise receiving records before Smith broke them. A year before Smith lead the league in receptions, yards and touchdowns, Muhammad lead the league in yards and touchdowns himself. He also led the league in receptions in 2000. Muhammad had three 1,000-yard seasons with the Panthers and made two Pro-Bowls and one All-Pro team in his career.
WR: D.J. Moore (2018-Present)
301 Rec | 4,313 Yds | 14 TD
After Smith and Muhammad, there isn't many notable wide receivers for the Panthers. I'm going with D.J. Moore in this spot, maybe because of potential, but also due to current production. He's already had three 1,000-yard seasons and will continue to be the go-to target in Carolina for as long as he's on the team.
TE: Greg Olsen (2011-2019)
524 Rec | 6,463 Yds | 39 TD | 3x Pro-Bowl (14, 15, 16)
The tight end position for Carolina is a tough decision, but ultimately, I settled on Greg Olson. He and Wesley Walls both have an outside shot at making the Hall of Fame one day. Walls made more Pro-Bowls than Olson and caught more touchdowns, but Olsen's peak was better, and he caught 200 more passes for almost 3,000 more yards. Olsen was also the first tight end in history to have three seasons in a row of over 1,000 yards. He was named to the Pro-Bowl in all three of these seasons from 2014-2016.