Carolina Panthers' 'red flag': Wide receiver

May, 15, 2013
5/15/13
2:53
PM ET
Football Outsiders is doing a league-wide series of posts called "Red Flags," which take a look at the biggest remaining issue facing each team. Today’s post is on the NFC South and I’m breaking it up into four smaller posts to explore the red flags for each team.

Our next stop is the Carolina Panthers. Football Outsiders chose wide receiver as Carolina’s red flag and wasn’t very kind to No. 2 receiver Brandon LaFell.

“A third-round draft pick in 2010, LaFell returns this season as Carolina's No. 2 receiver by default. He has one 100-yard game in his career, against Tampa Bay in 2011, and 91 of his 103 yards that day came on one touchdown catch. Behind him, the Panthers have a motley crew of has-beens and never-wases.’’

I think the Panthers have collected enough guys that they’ll be fine when it comes to No. 3, 4 and 5 receivers. But I get the point that the Panthers don’t have anyone capable of challenging LaFell for a starting job.

On the surface, that might not seem like all that big of a deal because the Panthers still have Steve Smith as their No. 1 receiver. But Outsiders provides us with a reminder that that’s only a temporary situation.

“By the way, Smith just turned 34. Very soon, the Panthers won't need to find a counterpart for Smith, they'll need to find his replacement.’’

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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