Carolina Panthers defensive end Kyle Love may be on his way out if younger talent shows production…
Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney elected to let defensive tackle Star Lotulelei exit via free agency during the offseason. Unable to match his market value given the current state of the roster, Lotulelei signed a five-year, $50 million deal with half guaranteed to play with the Buffalo Bills next season.
His absence created an immediate opening in a defensive front that has recently been considered as one of the best in the league. Hurney added veteran Dontari Poe, who spent five years in Kansas City before playing last season with divisional rival Atlanta. Poe adds a quiet but dominant presence in the middle, similar to Lotulelei, and should help fill the void created from his absence.
Alongside Poe will be Kawann Short and third-year tackle Vernon Butler figuring into the rotation but young tackles Drew Iddings, Ashaad Mabry and rookies Kendrick Norton, Tracy Sprinkle could also work into the mix. If so, Kyle Love would likely be the odd man out as discussed by ESPN staff writer David Newton.
"Say one of the young tackles (Drew Iddings, Kendrick Norton, Ashaad Mabry) proves good enough to be a part of the four-man rotation that begins with Kawann Short, Dontari Poe and Vernon Butler. That could make the 31-year-old Love, primarily an early-down run-stopper, expendable. He’s in the last year of his contract and has a $1.3 million cap number that could be applied to extending other long-term players."
More from Cat Crave
- Carolina Panthers losing Derek Carr would be blessing in disguise
- 4 bold trades that would turn the Carolina Panthers into 2023 contenders
- 4 legacy-defining moments of Carolina Panthers founder Jerry Richardson
- 3 reasons the Carolina Panthers won’t trade for Aaron Rodgers in 2023
- Dan Orlovsky’s temptation signifies Carolina Panthers ambition
Love appeared in all 16 games a year ago for Carolina, registering nine tackles with three and one-half sacks. Playing behind two key starters, barring injury, similar production would be expected out of Love this season. If one of the younger tackles proves capable of earning comparable statistics in the same amount of snaps then Love could be out.
The move would make sense financially, allocating more money for other players who contribute more consistently and are thought to be pieces for the future of the franchise. However, relying on an unproven Butler and even younger talent to uphold the position in the event of a starter injury is also a risky factor.
Love does have experience and has proven capable of shoring up the defensive line in time of need. His preseason performance and that of the other linemen will be something to keep an eye on as the season approaches.