Carolina Panthers: What next for Sam Franklin after surviving cuts?

(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) Sam Franklin
(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) Sam Franklin /

What comes next for undrafted free-agent linebacker Sam Franklin after he survived the first round of early cuts with the Carolina Panthers?

The Carolina Panthers have plenty on their plate heading into the new season. They are set to take the field in the coming days for the official start of training camp. And how they develop over the next few weeks will go a long way to determining just what things we can expect from the team in 2020.

No preseason games, OTAs, or minicamps has been something of a challenge for new head coach Matt Rhule. The Carolina Panthers are counting on the former Baylor man to bring his college success into the pros. And it remains to be seen just how much of an impression he can make with such a disrupted preparation period.

The Panthers wasted little time in trimming their roster down to 80 ahead of the August 16 deadline despite Rhule’s initial comments to the contrary. But what comes next for those who survived the cuts will be crucial in their pursuit of earning a permanent place on the 53-man roster for their week one clash against the Las Vegas Raiders in just 42 days’ time.

Continuing our countdown feature ahead of the new season, we now turn our attention to Carolina’s No. 42. Sam Franklin was an undrafted free-agent pickup by the Panthers after failing to hear his name called during the 2020 NFL Draft. And the coaching staff must have seen enough during his time at Temple for him to get a shot at staking his claim at the next level.

What can Sam Franklin bring to the Carolina Panthers?

Franklin comes into a position that has plenty of questions following the shock retirement of Luke Kuechly. Tahir Whitehead promises to fill the starting role in 2020. With other hopefuls such as Andre Smith and Jordan Kunaszyk also aiming to make their presence felt.

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There is a lot to like about the sort of things that Franklin brings to the table. He has three seasons of good college production under his belt. And although he is still a work in progress from a professional perspective. The player’s athleticism and dedication should see him trend on an upward curve almost instantly.

It is sure to be stiff competition for places and playing time behind Whitehead during camp. But the Panthers must think a lot of Franklin to give him an opportunity on the field.

This is a difficult period for undrafted prospects to make a roster with no preseason games. Coaches might decide to go with those with more experience. But Carolina’s lack of expectations in 2020 could see more of an opening for incoming college recruits.

Franklin has career stats of 141 solo tackles, 24 tackles for loss, eight sacks, two interceptions, eight pass deflections, and three fumble recoveries. The linebacker possesses tremendous instincts at the second level. And he is also quick enough to be around the ball consistently.

Size is something of a concern for Franklin at the next level. But there wouldn’t be any great expectations on him coming in and making an instant contribution.

This would allow the player to develop at his own pace. And he represents an intriguing option to make the practice squad, at the very least.