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All-Time Teams: Carolina Panthers



Introduction

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


Franchise Information

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.


Honorable Mentions

  1. 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)

  2. 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)

  3. 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.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Stephen Davis (2003-2005) | 4.0 Yds/A | 2,085 Yds | 20 TD | 21 Rec | 236 Rec Yds | 1x Pro-Bowl (03)

  2. 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)

  3. 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.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Wesley Walls (1996-2002) | 324 Rec | 3,902 Yds | 44 TD | 5x Pro-Bowl (96, 97, 98, 99, 01)


OT: Jordan Gross (2003-2013)

Started 167 of 167 Games | 3x Pro-Bowl (08, 10, 13) | 1x All-Pro (08)


Jordon Gross is without a doubt the best offensive tackle in Panther's history. He started 167 games and made three Pro-Bowls and one All-Pro Team. He started every game in eight of his 11 seasons. He was one of the best tackles of his era and while he may never make the Hall of Fame, he will be remembered as one of the great Carolina Panthers.

OT: Taylor Moton (2017-Present)

Started 65 of 81 Games


After Gross, just like the case at wide receiver, there isn't a lot to work with. This is to be expected as the team's first season was in 1995, although this didn't seem to affect the Ravens too much. Anyways, my choice is Taylor Moton. He's played in every game from 2018-2021, not missing a single offensive snap. He has been one of the better offensive linemen in the league since taking over the starting role in 2018 and I expect this to continue for as long as he's in Carolina.


OG: Trai Turner (2014-2019)

Started 80 of 84 Games | 5x Pro-Bowl (15, 16, 17, 18, 19)

The Panthers have had a little more luck at the guard position as they have two very good starters for their All-Time Team. Trai Turner is the first guard for the All-Time Panthers. He started 80 of 84 games played and made five straight Pro-Bowls from 2015-2019. He was a very good blocker with the Panthers and the first of three names on this list to be key members of the offensive line that helped block for Cam Newton's 2015 MVP season.


OG: Andrew Norwell (2014-2017)

Started 54 of 55 Games | 1x All-Pro (17)


The second offensive guard for the Panthers is Andrew Norwell. He too was a key member of the great 2015 Panthers that made the Super Bowl. He started in 54 of 55 games played and made the All-Pro Team in 2017, but somehow didn't also make the Pro-Bowl.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Travelle Wharton (2004-2011, 2013) | Started 111 of 115 Games


C: Ryan Kalil (2007-2018)

Started 145 of 148 Games | 5x Pro-Bowl (09, 10, 11, 13, 15) | 2x All-Pro (13, 15)


The final member of the All-Time Panthers offensive line may be the best. Ryan Kalil started in 145 games for the Panthers and made five Pro-Bowls and two All-Pro Teams. He was also a leader on the offensive line for the 2015 Panthers. He was one of the better centers of the 2010s and will most likely at least garner some attention from Hall of Fame voters once he becomes eligible.


DE: Julius Peppers (2002-2009, 2017-2018)

6 Int | 34 FF | 10 FR | 97 Sk | 441 Tackles | 107 TFL | Led League in TFL 2006 (18) | 5x Pro-Bowl (04, 05, 06, 08, 09) | 2x All-Pro (04, 06) | 2002 Defensive Rookie of the Year | Hall of Fame All-2000s Team | Hall of Fame All-2010s Team


Julius Peppers is the first person most people think of when they think of the greatest Carolina Panthers, so he obviously gets the starting role here. Peppers made five Pro-Bowls and two All-Pro Teams with the Panthers and was also named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2002. He had at least 10 sacks in seven of his 10 seasons in Carolina, including a career high 14.5 in 2008. Peppers ranks fifth all-time in sacks in NFL history. He is one of few players who was named to two all decade teams, being named to the Hall of Fame All-2000s and 2010s Teams.


DE: Mike Rucker (1999-2007)

1 Int | 15 FF | 7 FR | 55.5 Sk | 422 Tackles | 85 TFL | 1x Pro-Bowl (03)

Mike Rucker and Charles Johnson are the next two defensive ends for the All-Time Panthers team, and I gave the edge to Rucker. He only made one Pro-Bowl in 2003, but he had over 10 sacks in two seasons and played in every game in six seasons. While Johnson has more sacks, Rucker has more tackles and tackles for loss. Johnson also only played in every game for four seasons. I fully understand this spot being interchangeable, but I think Rucker was slightly more dominant at his peak.

Honorable Mentions

  1. Charles Johnson (2007-2017) | 17 FF | 4 FR | 67.5 Sk | 323 Tackles | 75 TFL

  2. Greg Hardy (2010-2014) | 7 FF | 1 FR | 34 Sk | 203 Tackles | 44 TFL | 1x Pro-Bowl (13)

  3. Mario Addison (2012-2019) | 11 FF | 4 FR | 55 Sk | 207 Tackles | 49 TFL


DT: Kris Jenkins (2001-2007)

1 FF | 2 FR | 20.5 Sk | 216 Tackles | 47 TFL | 3x Pro-Bowl (02, 03, 06) | 2x All-Pro (02, 03)


The first defensive tackle for the All-Time Panthers is Kris Jenkins. Jenkins compiled 20.5 sacks in his time with Carolina and was voted to three Pro-Bowls and two All-Pro Teams. His best season came in 2003 where he was a key reason for the Panthers making the Super Bowl. He racked up five sacks and 46 tackles that season on his way to being voted to his second straight All-Pro Team.


DT: Kawann Short (2013-2020)

9 FF | 6 FR | 32.5 Sk | 280 Tackles | 59 TFL | 2x Pro-Bowl (15, 18)


The other defensive tackle for the All-Time Panthers is Kawann Short. Short had a similar career to Jenkins, in being a key part of a team that made the Super Bowl. His best season was that Super Bowl year where he had 11 sacks and 55 tackles. He was named to two Pro-Bowls in his years in Carolina. While neither defensive tackle is a Hall of Famer, they make for a very good tandem.


LB: Luke Kuechly (2012-2019)

18 Int | 7 FF | 9 FR | 12.5 Sk | 1,092 Tackles | 75 TFL | Led League in Tackles 2012, 2014 (164, 153) | 7x Pro-Bowl (13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19) | 5x All-Pro (13, 14, 15, 17, 18) | 2012 Defensive Rookie of the Year | 2013 Defensive Player of the Year | Hall of Fame All-2010s Team


Along with Peppers and Smith, Kuechly is another for sure Hall of Famer for the Panthers that just hasn't been out of the league long enough yet to be inducted. Kuechly shocked the NFL world when he retired at the top of his game following the 2019 season. He only played in eight seasons, but he made seven straight Pro-Bowls from 2013-2019 and five All-Pro Teams along with being named the 2012 Defensive Rookie of the Year and 2013 Defensive Player of the Year. He led the league in tackles two different times and was named to the Hall of Fame All-2010s team. While it was only an eight-year career, it was one of the most dominant ever for an inside linebacker.


LB: Thomas Davis (2005-2018)

13 Int | 18 FF | 11 FR | 28 Sk | 1,098 Tackles | 87 TFL | 3x Pro-Bowl (15, 16, 17) | 1x All-Pro (15) | 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year


Kuechly's linebacking mate for every season but one is also the next best linebacker in Panther's history. Thomas Davis also racked up over 1,000 tackles and was named to the All-Pro Team in 2015 when the Panthers made the Super Bowl. He was a force on the defensive side of the ball for over a decade with the Panthers, but mainly flew under the radar. He also made three straight Pro-Bowls from 2015-2017.


LB: Jon Beason (2007-2012)

9 Int | 3 FF | 4 FR | 4 Sk | 572 Tackles | 32 TFL | Led League in Solo Tackles 2008 (110) | 3x Pro-Bowl (08, 09, 10) | 1x All-Pro (08)


Maybe even more overlooked than Thomas Davis is Jon Beason. Beason rounds out a great trio of linebackers for the Panthers. He was only with the Panthers for six seasons, but he made three Pro-Bowls from 2008-2010 and one All-Pro Team in 2008. That 2008 season was his best, where he led the league in solo tackles with 110. He had a great first couple of seasons and then kind of fell off and that's why he tends to be forgotten. Kevin Greene and Sam Mills both had a great couple years with the Panthers, but they are both on other All-Time Teams.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Sam Mills (1995-1997) | 7 Int | 6 FF | 6 FR | 10 Sk | 331 Tackles | 1x Pro-Bowl (96) | 1x All-Pro (96) | Hall of Fame Class 2022

  2. Kevin Greene (1996, 1998-1999) | 2 Int | 3 FF | 7 FR | 41.5 Sk | 149 Tackles | Led League in Sk 1996 (14.5) | 2x Pro-Bowl (96, 98) | 1x All-Pro (96) | Hall of Fame All-1990s Team | Hall of Fame Class 2016

  3. Dan Morgan (2001-2007) | 5 Int | 3 FF | 6 FR | 7 Sk | 390 Tackles | 18 TFL | 1x Pro-Bowl (04)


CB: Chris Gamble (2004-2012)

27 Int | 4 FF | 6 FR | 1 Sk | 510 Tackles | 21 TFL

Chris Gamble is the franchise leader in interceptions with 27. He never made a Pro-Bowl or All-Pro Team, but he was solid and a model for consistency for nine seasons with Carolina. Gambles best season came in 2005, where he had seven interceptions and returned one back for a touchdown.


CB: Eric Davis (1996-2000)

25 Int | 7 FF | 4 FR | 1 Sk | 321 Tackles | 1 TFL | 1x Pro-Bowl (96)


Before he was on NFL Network and in the booth, Eric Davis was a great cornerback for the Panthers and 49ers. After winning a Super Bowl and spending six years in San Francisco, Davis came to Carolina and proceeded to have five straight seasons with exactly five interceptions each. He was named to the Pro-Bowl in 1996. Josh Norman is the only All-Pro corner in Panther's history, but he really only had one great season out of a four-season stint with the Panthers.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Josh Norman (2012-2015) | 7 Int | 4 FF | 3 FR | 181 Tackles | 4 TFL | 1x Pro-Bowl (15) | 1x All-Pro (15)


S: Mike Minter (1997-2006)

17 Int | 11 FF | 11 FR | 11 Sk | 805 Tackles | 14 TFL


Safety is a rather slim position for the Panthers as neither starter made a Pro-Bowl or All-Pro Team in their career, but both had solid stints with the Panthers. Starting with Mike Minter who intercepted 17 passes in his 10 seasons with Carolina. Minter played in every game in eight seasons and intercepted at least one pass in eight seasons as well. He also had at least 60 tackles in nine seasons.


S: Charles Godfrey (2008-2014)

11 Int | 7 FF | 3 FR | 3 Sk | 277 Tackles | 8 TFL


The other safety for the All-Time Panthers is Charles Godfrey. He spent seven seasons with Carolina, intercepting at least one pass in all but one season. His best year was 2010, where he intercepted five passes and had 85 tackles.


K: John Kasay (1995-2010)

82.8 FG% | 56 Long | 1,482 Points | Led League in FGM 1996 (37) | Led League in Points 1996 (145)


The all-time leader in points scored for the Panthers is also the starting kicker here. John Kasay spent 16 seasons in Carolina and racked up over 1,400 points. He led the league in field goals made in 1996. Gano was slightly more accurate in his time in Carolina, but I give the edge to Kasay due to his longevity with the team.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Graham Gano (2012-2018) | 85.5 FG% | 63 Long | 742 Points | Led League in FG% 2017 (96.7%) | Led League in Long 2018 (63)


P: Todd Sauerbrun (2001-2004)

15,938 Punt Yds | 73 Long | 45.5 Yds/Punt | Led League in Yds 2001, 2002 (4,419, 4,735) | Led League in Yds/Punt 2001, 2002 (47.5, 45,5) | 3x Pro-Bowl (01. 02, 03) | 2x All-Pro (01, 02)


Todd Sauerbrun is the obvious choice at punter. While he might not sound like a household name, he should be. He averaged over 45 yards a punt, made three Pro-Bowls and two All-Pro Teams. For his four seasons in Carolina, he was arguably the best punter in the league.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Jason Baker (2005-2011) | 25,064 Punt Yds | 70 Long | 44 Yds/Punt | Led League in Punt Yds 2006 (4,483)


Returner: Michael Bates (1995-2000)

5,987 Kick Rt Yds | 5 Kick Rt TD | 25.7 Yds/Kick Rt | Led League in Kick Rt TD 1999 (2) | Led League in Yds/Kick Rt 1996, 1997 (30.2, 27.3) | 5x Pro-Bowl (96, 97, 98, 99, 00) | 1x All-Pro (96) | Hall of Fame All-1990s Team


Michael Bates is one of the best returners in NFL history. He had just under 6,000 kick return yards and returned five back for touchdowns. He spent six seasons in Carolina, making the Pro-Bowl in five of them. He was named All-Pro in 1996 and also named to the Hall of Fame All-1990s Team, cementing him as one of the best return specialists ever.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Steve Smith (2001-2013) | 1,652 Punt Rt Yds | 4 Punt Rt TD | 9.3 Yds/Punt Rt | 2,371 Kick Rt Yds | 2 Kick Rt TD | 24.2 Yds/Kick Rt | Led League in Punt Rt TD 2002 (2) | Led League in Kick Rt TD 2001 (2) | 5x Pro-Bowl (01, 05, 06, 08, 11) | 2x All-Pro (01, 05) | 2005 Comeback Player of the Year


Head Coach: Ron Rivera (2011-2019)

Regular Season: 76-63-1 | 54.6 W-L% | Playoffs: 3-4 | 2013 Coach of the Year | 2015 Coach of the Year | 2015 NFC Champion


There are only two coaches that could be in this spot and I think Rivera is the better of the two, the other being John Fox. Rivera won three more games in his career and has a slightly better W-L%. They both lead their teams to the Super Bowl, but Rivera's 2015 Panthers are the better of the two as they went 15-1 and were one of the best teams ever to not win the Super Bowl. Rivera also led the Panthers to three winning seasons and four playoff appearances. He was also twice named the coach of the year. Fox had three winning seasons and three playoff appearances as well.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Dom Capers (1995-1998) | Regular Season: 30-34 | 46.9 W-L% | Playoffs: 1-1 | 1996 Coach of the Year

  2. John Fox (2002-2010) | Regular Season: 73-71 | 50.7 W-L% | 5-3 Playoffs | 2003 NFC Champion

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