Cam Erving is a feast or famine pickup by the Carolina Panthers
By Dean Jones
Offensive lineman Cam Erving was the second signing of free agency for the Carolina Panthers, which represents a feast or famine pickup by the organization.
It’s not a surprise that the Carolina Panthers are addressing their offensive line early in free agency. This positional group needs three new starters to put alongside Taylor Moton and Matt Paradis. But the acquisition of Cam Erving from the Dallas Cowboys left plenty questioning the decision at the sort of money allocated.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Erving was given a two-year, $10 million deal with $8 million guaranteed by the Panthers, which could see the player replace Russell Okung at left tackle if he hits the ground running in a new environment. However, considering the struggles he’s had in protecting the edge throughout his career, this is a big risk by Carolina in no uncertain terms.
Erving’s time in Dallas last season was blighted by injury. The former No. 19 overall selection by the Cleveland Browns was on the field for just 279 snaps, giving up one sack and one penalty to record a modest 58.0 grade from Pro Football Focus as a result of his efforts.
One thing that Erving does have going for him is versatility.
He can operate either as a tackle or as an interior lineman, which is something the Panthers sought heavily during their recruitment process last time about and it appears they are continuing with this method if their first two signings are any indication.
Cam Erving is more suited to guard than tackle.
There is something Erving has that most on the Panthers’ roster do not. That is a Super Bowl ring from his time at the Kansas City Chiefs.
It means very little in the grand scheme of things and especially considering he has flattered to deceive after arriving at the next level from Florida State with some lofty expectations.
This is the last chance saloon for Erving in terms of forging a successful career as an NFL starter. Head coach Matt Rhule has shown plenty of willingness when it comes to taking a chance on these sorts of players with mixed success. So it remains to be seen whether the move to sign Erving pays off.
The Panthers will no doubt look towards the 2021 NFL Draft for some young recruits on their offensive line. Bringing Erving and Pat Elflein on board says more about the likes of Greg Little, Dennis Daley, and Trenton Scott more than anything else. But if Carolina goes into next season with their latest pair of recruits as starters, it could be a real problem.
Every NFL fan is looking for their team to make a big splash in free agency right off the bat. General manager Scott Fitterer stated his intentions to let the market play out and go from there. But with the pool of veterans shrinking at a rapid rate, waiting too long is going to be costly.
As it stands right now, there is absolutely no way Carolina’s long-term left tackle is on the roster. Erving is far more suited to guard at this juncture and throwing him to the wolves on the edge has the potential to have some significant ramifications.
Pat Elflein is not the answer to Panthers’ protection problem
Offensive lineman Pat Elflein was the Carolina Panthers' first signing of free agency, but he is not the answer to their interior protection problem.
It’s been an underwhelming start to free agency for the Panthers’ frustrated fanbase. But it might be worth remembering that this is a marathon, not a sprint.