Panthers: To Sign or Not to Sign: Brian Cushing


Brian Cushing is on the market. Here are the pro and cons if the Carolina Panthers were to sign him.

Over the weekend, the Houston Chronicle reported that the Houston Texans released linebacker all-time tackles leader Brian Cushing.

Cushing could be in a Panthers’ uniform next season. His signing would provide relatively cheap depth at linebacker, and add a seasoned veteran to the locker room. Below are some reasons that the Panthers will sign him, and possible reasons why the Panthers will not sign him.

Why the Panthers should sign Cushing.

  1. Cushing is a solid linebacker what will provide depth, and signing him will justify not drafting a linebacker in this year’s draft. That means that that draft pick can go towards a different needs (*cough* wide receiver *cough*).
  2. He will be a cheap signing as he is not a top-tier free agent. He  will not command a huge salary, and a relatively cheap, short deal should easily be agreed on.
  3. The Panthers have always signed older veterans to their defense to provide temporary depth, and  signing Cushing would be a classic, organizational move by the Panthers.
  4. His speed and power are undeniable when his film is reviewed. His presence in the middle of the field was a critical part of a defense that gave even Tom Brady trouble in the 2016 divisional round.

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Why the Panthers should not sign Cushing.

  1. The Texans defense that Cushing has operated in during his entire nine-year career is a 3-4 defense, but the Panthers currently deploy a 4-3 defense. An old dog can’t learn new tricks.
  2. Cushing has a drug history. According to Spotrac, Cushing received a 10 game suspension for violating the National Football League’s PED policy in 2017. His drug habits will likely turn away a conservative coach like Ron Rivera.
  3. Despite  dazzling 2009 and 2013 seasons, Cushing’s numbers have been largely limited. Just look at the mediocre statistics by Pro Football Reference.
  4. Other teams are much thinner at the linebacker position than the Panthers currently are. Those teams might be willing to sign Cushing to a bigger contract.
  5. Cushing might not want to sign with the Carolina Panthers. Cushing, like most NFL players, is a competitor and would want to compete for a starting position. With Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, and Shaw Thompson, it is highly unlikely that Cnushing would be able to battle his way to the top.

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In all likelyhood, the Panthers will not sign Brian Cushing. His drug abuse is an issue that an organization with unstable ownership (like the Panthers) simply cannot deal with during the 2018 season. Additionally, the signing of Cushing would take away money that could be used to keep Guard Andrew Norwell in Carolina (Andrew, please don’t leave Carolina).