Since the end of the season Panthers fans, as per usual, have had their eyes to the free agent market.
Since the end of the season Panthers fans, as per usual, have had their eyes to the Free Agent market. Despite the fact that David Gettleman has rarely gone after a high profile free agent, there are still always going to be those that think that we should add to our success by adding proven talent before the draft. One of the names that really emerged this year in the minds and mouths of Panthers fans was Eric Weddle. The former San Diego Charger is a three time pro bowler and was most certainly the most highly coveted Safety of this year’s Free Agency class.
On Monday afternoon Weddle signed a four year, $26,000,000 contract with the Baltimore Ravens, including $13,000,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $6,500,000. This dashed the hopes of quite a few Panthers fans that were hoping this would be the year that we made a big time signing.
But is Weddle someone that the Panthers trulyed need in order to move forward as a team? I am not so sure.
Typically Gettleman looks for short term free agent deals (with an emphasis on the word “Deal.”) He generally signs lesser known free agents to prove-it contracts and then allows them to outplay their deal, or eventually go elsewhere (see: Mike Mitchell, Mike Remmers, Ted Ginn, etc…) I can’t see Dave going out and splurging on a big name free safety when it is not a pressing need.
Kurt Coleman had a break out year in 2015 and I believe the answer opposite him is already on the roster, Tre Boston.
Now I know that Boston has not had a lot of playing time as of yet, but in the small amount of time that he has gotten he has flashed signs that he can be a real difference maker on defense. In only six starts he already has 55 tackles, three passes defended, and an 86 yard pick six. Now while those numbers don’t blow anyone away yet, it could hardly be said that he is a weakness.
By comparison, last year Weddle played in 13 games, racked up 78 combined tackles, a half of a sack, and a fumble recovery. If you are one of those people who live by the philosophy of “What Have You Done For Me Lately” it could be argued that Boston and Weddle are fairly similar statistically at this point in their careers (minus the key variable of experience).
There is one big difference in letting Boston start vs. picking up Weddle: cost.
While Weddle will earn $9 million in the first year of his deal, Tre Boston is scheduled to make just over $700k this year (and next season for that matter.)
That’s a big difference, and that extra money could go a long way toward signing Josh Norman or Kawann Short to their long term deals, which should take precedence over an upgrade at safety.
Carolina is right to roll the dice and hope that Tre Boston will become the player that he has shown flashes of thus far.