Examining the curious case of defensive lineman Zach Kerr and his chances with the Carolina Panthers in 2020.
We are just 92 days away from the Carolina Panthers taking the field in a competitive environment once again. This has been the most turbulent offseason perhaps in NFL history. And there is still a lingering doubt as to whether the 2020 campaign can start on time.
The current climate has impacted the Carolina Panthers more than most. They are working with a brand-new coaching staff and a revamped roster. So the lack of face-to-face time has the scope to have a detrimental effect on their overall fortunes next season.
Despite this relative uncertainty, some areas of the roster bring a real cause for encouragement. The defensive line is expected to make significant strides after the franchise brought in some high-end draft picks and quality free agents.
Zach Kerr was one of Carolina’s free agent arrivals when he signed a two-year, $3 million deal that included a $500,000 signing bonus and a further $500,000 guaranteed. He will now try and earn a spot on a stacked rotation that potentially has some dominant faces across the front seven.
Kerr is a versatile lineman that can operate on the edge or on the interior. The player was a stout run presence for the Arizona Cardinals in 2019 on his way to a respectable 69.5 grade from Pro Football Focus.
That was not enough to earn the lineman a new deal with the franchise. And he might not even make Carolina’s 53-man roster given the fierce competition for places. It is going to be a pivotal training camp for those looking to make an impression. But they will not be helped by a short timeframe to catch the coaching staff’s eye.
What can Zach Kerr bring to the Carolina Panthers?
There is plenty of curiosity surrounding Zach Kerr going into training camp. He has experience playing across the line of scrimmage. And this sort of versatility is something that the Carolina Panthers have coveted in almost every new recruit this offseason.
The player can impact a game in various ways. He commands attention and is broad enough to eat up space for others to work in. It appears unlikely he can force his way into a starting spot. But there is nothing to suggest that a place on the rotation is not entirely out of the question.
He will have to overcome some formidable teammates who are also fighting for the same position. The likes of Efe Obada, Christian Miller, second-round pick Yetur Gross-Matos, sixth-rounder Bravvion Roy, Marquis Haynes, and Woodrow Hamilton will all fancy their chances of a prominent role with a new regime. And this is going to be one of the key position battles when they finally get back on the field.
Kerr has recorded 135 combined tackles, 76 solo tackles, 7.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and five pass deflections during his career. The player does appear at a crossroads after six seasons as a professional. And he will need to produce in order to become a reliable presence at a position where opportunities appear at a premium.
If the Panthers do decide to part ways with Kerr without him ever taking a snap for the franchise, it would represent a saving of around $867,000 and come with a dead cap hit of $500,000. Given their eye-popping dead cap figure going into 2020, this is a drop in the ocean and something that Kerr needs to have in the back of his mind as he looks to make a name for himself.