Nov 26, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Carolina Panthers helmets prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Panthers defeated the Eagles 30-22. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers 2013 NFL Free Agency Preview


This article was written by Ken Dye of Cat Crave.

Each year, every team goes through free agency. Usually, some are allowed to go while others are signed as positional needs change with young players beginning to produce and others don’t live up to expectations.

The NFL is a “matchup” league, so as other teams, especially within their respective divisions, make personnel moves and/or change systems, the other teams may have to adjust. It’s a constant battle.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Carolina Panthers’ free agents for 2013:

Here is the list of Panthers 2013 free agents:

  • Captain Munnerlyn — Cornerback — UFA
  • Dwan Edwards — Defensive Tackle — UFA
  • Louis Murphy — Wide Receiver — UFA
  • Sherrod Martin — Safety — UFA
  • Derek Anderson — Quaterback — UFA
  • Gary Barnidge — Tight End — UFA
  • Mike Pollak — Guard — UFA
  • Antwan Applewhite — Linebacker — UFA
  • Jordan Senn — Linebacker — UFA
  • Jason Phillips — Linebacker — UFA
  • Ben Hartstock — Tight End — UFA
  • Nate Ness — Cornerback — RFA
  • Ron Edwards — Defensive Tackle — UFA

*Thanks to Josh Sanchez for this list – his article and comments can be found here.

Okay. So which ones stay, and who goes?

As usual, it’s not that simple. Especially with the Panthers pushing against the newly-announced $123 million team salary cap, cap issues for the team, and a new General Manager, David Gettleman.

As catcrave.com staff writer Tony Cardwell pointed out the other day, it looks like the Panthers are going to keep DT Dwan Edwards. Edwards was second in the NFC in sacks from the DT position – next to the infamous and mega-talented Ndamukong Suh of Detroit. Gettleman’s first move as GM was to sign DT Colin Cole, a player whom, due to injury with the Seattle Seahawks in 2010, hasn’t played a down in two seasons. However, he has talent and with the departure of DT Ron Edwards and the soft interior DL issues the Panthers have had in recent years, it looks like Gettleman is trying to add bodies early to the position. 

The 2013 NFL draft is heavy on linemen on both sides of the ball and in linebackers, but very thin at some areas of need for the Carolina Panthers like WR, S, and to a lesser degree, cornerback.

So, it looks like Dwan Edwards is staying and veteran Ron Edwards was cut on March first. Gettleman’s been on the case and has apparently taken up the DT position as his top priority early. Ron Edwards is a 13-year veteran and his best days are behind him. Besides, the rush defense wasn’t much better with him than without him. With all the incoming rookie talent at the DT position in the draft this year and Ron’s inability to stay healthy the past two seasons made him expendable. He had signed a 3-year, $8.25 million dollar deal following the lockout in 2011 but missed the entire 2011 season and played in only 11 games in 2012. Although technically he’s no longer a Panthers’ free agent and is a player without a team now, I included him because his release is so recent.

Speaking of corners, Captain Munnerlyn may wind up staying as well. Because of aforementioned cap issues, the team’s best corner, Chris Gamble, almost certainly will be released; he also was injured for most of 2011 and 2012 and counts $7.9 million against the cap in 2013. Munnerlyn is NOT and never will be a #1 corner. Part of it is he is one of the smallest corners in the NFL at 5’8″ tall and as we all know, receivers are getting bigger and faster. Munnerlyn could stay on as a nickel corner or possibly the #2 corner as rising second-year corner Josh Norman really came on strong as a rookie and his play improved throughout last season. If Gamble goes, Munnerlyn almost certainly stays. He may anyway – again, as that nickel corner or in sub-packages.

WR Louis Murphy is a speedster that was signed for that speed from the speed-loving Oakland Raiders before the 2012 season. As Steve Smith’s backup, he only had 25 receptions and a single touchdown along with a number of dropped passes and mediocre play. Depending on price, the Panthers could still keep him, but I don’t think they’d lose much – other than spot depth – if he goes. At any rate, he shouldn’t command a big salary if he tests the free agency waters – not with guys like Greg Jennings and Mike Wallace out there.

Safety Sherrod Martin is the best of an entire group of backup-talent safeties on the Panthers’ roster. He’s serviceable, and with the ability to play either safety position, he’ll probably be re-signed if the price is right. He’s more of a natural strong safety, however, and the Panthers’ most glaring need in the secondary is a free safety. That’s a need that will have to be addressed either via the draft or an outside free agent.

QB Derek Anderson’s situation is difficult to project, but the Panthers have very little behind Cam Newton there. Anderson is a veteran QB who knows the system and could come right in and spot-start in case of injury. I think he stays as an insurance policy because of the lack of depth the Panthers otherwise have at QB.

TE Gary Barnidge is expendable, but should be able to hang around since he wouldn’t command much in salary. The team’s only receiving threat at the position is Greg Olsen and while I think the Panthers will be looking for another receiving TE, it’s not the highest need area they have. Remember – the Panthers have no third-round selection due to the Frank Alexander trade last season, so they need to make their first and second round picks to be instant starters, and a 2nd TE just doesn’t fit in there. They could go looking in the 4th or 5th round, depending on how the cards fall between now and then, but Barnidge could still hang around as the team’s third TE. He was supposed to be a receiving-type TE but hasn’t shown it much.

TE Ben Hartsock was third on the depth chart behind Barnidge and is also expendable. Neither guy is a standout, and both appear underachievers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some new, younger, cheaper bodies at the TE2 and TE3 positions for 2013 if Rivera wants to upgrade these positions. They certainly could use a good blocking TE and they currently don’t have one on the roster. 

Guard Mike Pollak is a former second-round pick from the Indianapolis Colts, whom the Panthers signed before the 2012 season. His career has been marred by injuries and inconsistency in his play, and with the issues the team has on the interior offensive line, I wouldn’t be surprised to see upgrades signed here and Pollak could be on the way out.

LB Antwan Applewhite’s situation is hard to forecast because of Jon Beason’s status. Beason has been injured for most of the last two seasons and may be on the way out himself. The problem is that Applewhite was signed last offseason as a DE/OLB to help with the pass rush, but is one of those “tweeners” with most of his experience coming in San Diego’s 3-4 scheme. He’s never been productive as a pass-rusher and has had his own issues with injuries. While he’s useful as a reserve DE in the Panthers’ 4-3 scheme, he’s expendable. They could keep him, as depth only, and only if the price is right. He and Rivera have some history together, so that’s always a consideration.

LB Jordan Senn – and indeed many Carolina LBs – is in a similar situation. He’s an undersized OLB at 5’11 and 225 lbs., but even with all the injuries to the LB corps over the past few seasons, he’s only started 7 games in his 4 years with the Panthers and recorded 9 tackles last year. He’s very expendable but could be re-signed….and I know this sounds like a broken record, but the price has to be very low. If he doesn’t re-sign, I don’t think the Panthers would miss him. His saving grace is that he’s a good special teams player, and could be retained with that in mind.

LB Jason Phillips is in the same boat AGAIN as the other two mentioned above. Phillips was a cast-off from the Baltimore Ravens after the 2011 season, but given the strength of their LB corps at the time, I don’t hold that against him. he played in all 16 games in 2012, starting two of them, and can also play on special teams. I think the Panthers will keep either Senn or Phillips, but probably not both. The special teams coverage really improved once they got a new coach in the middle of the season in 2012 and whichever guy is considered the better ST player by coaches will have the edge.

Finally, we have Nate Ness, a cornerback originally taken by the Miami Dolphins in 2009. I saw him that preseason trying to make their team, and he really impressed me by being around the ball, but usually didn’t see the field except with the groups of guys on BOTH teams – Miami and whoever they were playing – that were on the end of the bench trying to make the squad. With young corners Sean Smith and Vontae Davis, Ness didn’t make it and has bounced around since, being picked up by the Panthers last season. He got injured, and has appeared in only 8 games in 4 years. He went from Miami to Seattle and BACK to Miami, which tells me the Dolphins really had an interest in him. The question with him is his health. If the Panthers want to take another chance on him for a minimum salary, they’ll keep him. He’s one of those players that are maddening because they show so much promise but can’t stay healthy. I think if nothing else, the Panthers may want to keep him around – on the practice squad.

Until the free agent signing period begins on March 12th, we’ll likely have little indication on roster moves unless people get cut/released over cap issues beforehand. 

Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye

Each year, every team goes through free agency. Usually, some are allowed to go while others are signed as positional needs change with young players beginning to produce and others don’t live up to expectations.

The NFL is a “matchup” league, so as other teams, especially within their respective divisions, make personnel moves and/or change systems, the other teams may have to adjust. It’s a constant battle.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Carolina Panthers’ free agents for 2013:

Here is the list of Panthers 2013 free agents:
Captain Munnerlyn — Cornerback — UFA
Dwan Edwards — Defensive Tackle — UFA
Louis Murphy — Wide Receiver — UFA
Sherrod Martin — Safety — UFA
Derek Anderson — Quaterback — UFA
Gary Barnidge — Tight End — UFA
Mike Pollak — Guard — UFA
Antwan Applewhite — Linebacker — UFA
Jordan Senn — Linebacker — UFA
Jason Phillips — Linebacker — UFA
Ben Hartstock — Tight End — UFA
Nate Ness — Cornerback — RFA

*Thanks to Josh Sanchez for this list – his article and comments can be found here

Okay. So which ones stay, and who goes?

As usual, it’s not that simple. Especially with the Panthers pushing against the newly-announced $123 million team salary cap, cap issues for the team, and a new General Manager, David Gettleman.

As catcrave.com staff writer Tony Cardwell pointed out the other day, it looks like the Panthers are going to keep DT Dwan Edwards. Edwards was second in the NFC in sacks from the DT position – next to the infamous and mega-talented Ndamukong Suh of Detroit. Gettleman’s first move as GM was to sign DT Colin Cole, a player whom, due to injury with the Seattle Seahawks in 2010, hasn’t played a down in two seasons. However, he has talent and with the likely departure of DT Ron Edwards and the soft interior DL issues the Panthers have had in recent years, it looks like Gettleman is trying to add bodies early to the position.

The 2013 NFL draft is heavy on linemen on both sides of the ball and in linebackers, but very thin at some areas of need for the Carolina Panthers like WR, S, and to a lesser degree, cornerback.

So, it looks like Dwan Edwards is staying and oft-injured Ron Edwards will probably not. Gettleman’s been on the case and has apparently taken up the DT position as his top priority early.

Speaking of corners, Captain Munnerlyn may wind up staying as well. Because of aforementioned cap issues, the team’s best corner, Chris Gamble, may be either traded or released; he also was injured for most of 2012. Munnerlyn is NOT and never will be a #1 corner. Part of it is he is one of the smallest corners in the NFL and as we all know, receivers are getting bigger and faster. Munnerlyn could stay on as a nickel corner or possibly the #2 corner as rising second-year corner Josh Norman really came on strong as a rookie and his play improved throughout last season. If Gamble goes, Munnerlyn almost certainly stays. He may anyway – again, as that nickel corner in sub-packages.

WR Louis Murphy is a speedster that was signed for that speed from the speed-loving Oakland Raiders before the 2012 season. As Steve Smith’s backup, he only had 25 receptions and a single touchdown along with a number of dropped passes and mediocre play. Depending on price, the Panthers could still keep him, but I don’t think they’d lose much – other than spot depth – if he goes. At any rate, he shouldn’t command a big salary if he tests the free agency waters – not with guys like Greg Jennings and Mike Wallace out there.

Safety Sherrod Martin is the best of an entire group of backup-talent safeties on the Panthers’ roster. He’s serviceable, and with the ability to play either safety position, he’ll probably be re-signed if the price is right. He’s more of a natural strong safety, however, and the Panthers’ most glaring need in the secondary is a free safety. That’s a need that will have to be addressed either via the draft or an outside free agent.

QB Derek Anderson’s situation is difficult to project, but the Panthers have very little behind Cam Newton there. Anderson is a veteran QB who knows the system and could come right in and spot-start in case of injury. I think he stays as an insurance policy because of the lack of depth the Panthers otherwise have at QB.

TE Gary Barnidge is expendable, but should be able to hang around since he wouldn’t command much in salary. The team’s only receiving threat at the position is Greg Olsen and while I think the Panthers will be looking for another receiving TE, it’s not the highest need area they have. Remember – the Panthers have no third-round selection due to the Frank Alexander trade last season, so they need to make their first and second round picks to be instant starters, and a 2nd TE just doesn’t fit in there. They could go looking in the 4th or 5th round, depending on how the cards fall between now and then, but Barnidge could still hang around as the team’s third TE. He was supposed to be a receiving-type TE but hasn’t shown it much.

TE Ben Hartsock was third on the depth chart behind Barnidge and is also expendable. Neither guy is a standout, and both appear underachievers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some new, younger, cheaper bodies at the TE2 and TE3 positions for 2013 if Rivera wants to upgrade these positions. They certainly could use a good blocking TE and they currently don’t have one on the roster.

Guard Mike Pollak is a former second-round pick from the Indianapolis Colts, whom the Panthers signed before the 2012 season. His career has been marred by injuries and inconsistency in his play, and with the issues the team has on the interior offensive line, I wouldn’t be surprised to see upgrades signed here and Pollak could be on the way out.

LB Antwan Applewhite’s situation is hard to forecast because of Jon Beason’s status. Beason has been injured for most of the last two seasons and may be on the way out himself. The problem is that Applewhite was signed last offseason as a DE/OLB to help with the pass rush, but is one of those “tweeners” with most of his experience coming in San Diego’s 3-4 scheme. He’s never been productive as a pass-rusher and has had his own issues with injuries. While he’s useful as a reserve DE in the Panthers’ 4-3 scheme, he’s expendable. They could keep him, as depth only, and only if the price is right. He and Rivera have some history together, so that’s always a consideration.

LB Jordan Senn – and indeed many Carolina LBs – is in a similar situation. He’s an undersized OLB at 5’11 and 225 lbs., but even with all the injuries to the LB corps over the past few seasons, he’s only started 7 games in his 4 years with the Panthers and recorded 9 tackles last year. He’s very expendable but could be re-signed….and I know this sounds like a broken record, but the price has to be very low. If he doesn’t re-sign, I don’t think the Panthers would miss him. His saving grace is that he’s a good special teams player, and could be retained with that in mind.

LB Jason Phillips is in the same boat AGAIN as the other two mentioned above. Phillips was a cast-off from the Baltimore Ravens after the 2011 season, but given the strength of their LB corps at the time, I don’t hold that against him. he played in all 16 games in 2012, starting two of them, and can also play on special teams. I think the Panthers will keep either Senn or Phillips, but probably not both. The special teams coverage really improved once they got a new coach in the middle of the season in 2012 and whichever guy is considered the better ST player by coaches will have the edge.

Finally, we have Nate Ness, a cornerback originally taken by the Miami Dolphins in 2009. I saw him that preseason trying to make their team, and he really impressed me by being around the ball, but usually didn’t see the field except with the groups of guys on BOTH teams – Miami and whoever they were playing – that were on the end of the bench trying to make the squad. With young corners Sean Smith and Vontae Davis, Ness didn’t make it and has bounced around since, being picked up by the Panthers last season. He got injured, and has appeared in only 8 games in 4 years. He went from Miami to Seattle and BACK to Miami, which tells me the Dolphins really had an interest in him. The question with him is his health. If the Panthers want to take another chance on him for a minimum salary, they’ll keep him. He’s one of those players that are maddening because they show so much promise but can’t stay healthy. I think if nothing else, the Panthers may want to keep him around – on the practice squad.

Until the free agent signing period begins on March 12th, we’ll likely have little indication on roster moves unless people get cut/released over cap issues beforehand.

Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye

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Tags: Carolina Panthers NFL Free Agency