There are few, if any, third string running backs in the NFL better than Carolina’s Mike Goodson. Though he is a talented back and a reliable kick returner, Goodson has already been labeled as a chronic fumbler. Though fumbling can be fixed, I am of the opinion that the Panthers should at least explore the idea of improving other areas of the team by using Goodson as a valuable bargaining chip.
Goodson is under contract for 2011 and 2012 with a very low cap number. The way it stands now, Goodson and second string back, Jonathan Stewart will both be free-agents after the 2012 season and there is no way that Carolina will be able to bring both players back. With DeAngleo Williams signing a five year contract this off-season, it makes one of the two impending free-agents expendable.
I am of the opinion that Stewart will continue the stance he has taken since being drafted by the Panthers: combining carries with Williams will lengthen both of their careers. I also believe that there is no way that Goodson will even consider the idea coming back to Charlotte as a third string running-back. The idea has been tossed around about moving Goodson to the wide-receiver position, but the Panthers already have a receiving project in Armanti Edwards and does not need another one.
For 2011, the Panthers would be more than fine with a running-back stable of Williams, Stewart, and Tyrell Sutton. The Panthers could add another young back in the 2012 draft if they feel that they want an upgrade over Sutton and want some insurance in case Stewart does decide to explore a full-time starting job with another franchise. When it comes to Goodson’s return ability, I would give that job to Armanti Edwards full-time. Edwards showed tremendous ability, athleticism, and vision returning punts in the Panthers first pre-season game against the Giants and could become a major weapon on special teams. The Panthers also have two promising rookies that can help out in the return game in Kealoha Pilares and Brandon Hogan.
The Panthers still have holes at defensive tackle and in the defensive secondary. There are several teams that would love to have a player of Goodson’s ability and may be willing to part with a player to pick Goodson up.
It was recently reported out of San Francisco that Taylor Mays will try to be traded by the 49ers. Would it be beneficial for both the Panthers and the 49ers to swap Goodson for Mays? The 49ers could use a young stud running back behind the aging Frank Gore and Goodson has a similar skill set. By acquiring Mays, who has a tremendous amount of talent, the Panthers could convert Charles Godfrey to his natural position of corner-back. Mays and Goodson both have deadly faults for their position too: Mays has been exposed several times in the past in coverage whereas Goodson has had trouble holding onto the football (Goodson had two fumbles against the Giants last Saturday). Both players have work to do to reach their full potential at the NFL level. I guess the question one has to ask is which player would help the Panthers win now and in the future?
In all reality Goodson will most likely be a member of the 2011 Carolina Panther team. Really who would blame them for holding onto him? However, I can’t help but wonder with the Panthers’ depth at running back and looking at other holes on the team if Goodson couldn’t be more valuable as a trade commodity than he is on the football field for the 2011 Panther football team.