Marty Hurney banking on Eli Apple to turn things around in 2020

General manager Marty Hurney is banking on Eli Apple to produce the goods for the Carolina Panthers in 2020.

The Carolina Panthers bolstered their secondary with the free-agent signing of cornerback Eli Apple. This solved an area of considerable need for the organization and should take some of the immediate pressure off fourth-round pick Troy Pride Jr.

While few would dispute that Apple could be a bargain for the Carolina Panthers on a one-year, $3 million deal. It has caused them extra salary cap stress and other moves are going to be made in order to free up money to sign their six remaining draft selections.

Apple has enjoyed mixed success since arriving in the NFL as the tenth overall pick in 2016. He spent last season starting for the New Orleans Saints and was often targeted as a weak link by opposing offenses.

There is a chance the player can live up to the enormous promise he showed coming out of college. But Apple is going to be under significant pressure once again on a Panthers cornerback group that has a completely different look following the departures James Bradberry, Ross Cockrell, and Javien Elliott.

That being said, Panthers’ general manager Marty Hurney likes what he sees from Apple. And the decision-maker is excited to see what the corner can bring to the organization in 2020.

Speaking to Joe Person of The Athletic, Hurney had this to say on the latest edition of the Panthers’ roster.

“He’s a young, talented corner, and he’s got a very good skill set. I know we’re anxious to get him here in the mix. He’s played in the league for four years. He can run. He’s a very fluid athlete. He’s got the skillset, and we’re anxious to work with him.”

This represents a leap of faith from the Panthers, who know plenty about Apple from his time with the Saints in the NFC South. The cornerback has all the physical tools one looks for in a successful player at the next level. But he has had difficulty harnessing this consistently during his time as a professional.

Was Eli Apple a good signing by the Carolina Panthers?

There was little doubt the need for the Carolina Panthers to acquire some cornerback depth prior to training camp. Given the financial resources at their disposal. They needed to look a little down the pecking order which put the franchise out of the running for the likes of Logan Ryan and Dre Kirkpatrick.

That being said, Apple could prove real value at the price providing he fits into Phil Snow’s system right away. There can be no more margin for error regarding the player, who appears to be running out of chances in his bid to become a prolonged starter in the NFL.

This might also be a good spot for Apple, who was not going to get a realistic chance of earning a starting spot elsewhere. How long he will occupy this position during the season will ultimately come down to the development of Pride Jr. But the onus will be on the player to leave no doubt with his production on the field.

Realistically speaking, this is probably the best sort of talent the Panthers could have hoped for with the money available. Their salary cap situation looks more promising in 2021. And Hurney is banking on Apple to fill the void in the meantime.