Panthers couldn’t beat Saints last season. Is Carolina falling further behind?

Panthers couldn’t beat Saints last season. Is Carolina falling further behind?
Linebacker Demario Davis (56) is among the New Orleans Saints’ offseason additions. Above, Davis, then with the New York Jets, looks to bring down Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen last season. (Credit: Jeff Siner | The Charlotte Observer)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Tom Sorensen | Correspondent) - I had hoped the Carolina Panthers would sign Eric Reid, the fine safety from the San Francisco 49ers. I wrote that last week. But Reid, who has the second most famous knee in the NFL, did not sign with Carolina or, at this writing, anywhere else.

For two seasons he has taken a knee during the national anthem. Smart and aware, Reid says he won't do that next season, that he'll use alternate methods to call attention to some of our country's inequities.

The Panthers did get a nice consolation prize, and that's cornerback Ross Cockrell, whom Carolina last week signed to a two-year $6.8 million contract. Cockrell played for Charlotte Latin and Duke, so if he's not smart it's his fault. He is smart. Also, he can play.

Do you like Carolina's approach to free agency? The Panthers have sought good and pretty good players to fit around their returning talent. They won 11 games last season and, obviously, believe in what they have.

But the New Orleans Saints last season beat the Panthers 34-13 and 31-21 during the regular season and 31-26 in the playoffs. The Saints have improved since that 31-26 victory. Their improvements are obvious and flashy, while Carolina's are subtle and understated.

Cam Newton will have more to work with next season. But it's not as if he could have less.

There is no one true philosophy. Do you invest major money on a high profile free agent such as Matt Kalil which Carolina did a year ago, or do you spread it around? Do you sign a few stars or several good players?

Time will be required before we know. But you look at the big-time acquisitions of other teams and you wonder.