Zach Kerr’s production did not warrant an early release

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Zach Kerr
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Zach Kerr /

Zach Kerr was surprisingly released by the Carolina Panthers despite performing extremely well during his first season with the franchise.

The NFL is a cutthroat business and this offseason is one like no other. Zach Kerr is the latest proven veteran who has felt the pinch of a shrinking salary-cap after the Carolina Panthers shockingly moved the defensive tackle on after just one year on the team.

According to the Charlotte Observer, Kerr and the Panthers will part ways immediately in a move that saves Carolina just $1.3 million on their cap in 2021. Considering how well the former Delaware standout performed when he was thrust into a more prominent role last season, he can feel more than a little aggrieved.

Kerr was brought in as a rotational piece but saw plenty of playing time once Pro Bowler Kawann Short went to the reserve/injured list for the second straight campaign. This proved to be the making of the lineman, who put up some superb numbers in the process.

  • 32 tackles
  • 2 sacks
  • 2 tackles for loss
  • 9 quarterback hits
  • 2 passes defended
  • 1 forced fumble
  • 11 pressures

All this from just 37 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.

Want further proof? Kerr’s Pro Football Focus grade of 84.1 was one of the team’s highest in 2020.

Carolina Panthers are now short of DT options after Zach Kerr’s release.

It wasn’t just on the field where Kerr made an impact. He became an instant hit with his teammates in the locker room and brought energy and infectious enthusiasm in equal measure.

The Panthers must have something up their sleeve. Otherwise, this move makes absolutely no sense at all.

Kerr is the sort of player every successful NFL franchise needs and there could have been a big opportunity awaiting him alongside Derrick Brown when one considers Efe Obada is also currently on the free-agent market.

Carolina does have high hopes for sixth-round pick Bravvion Roy. But asking him to fill a starting role could do more harm than good at this stage of his development.

There promises to be plenty of veteran players looking for short-term deals in the current climate, but there has been a barrage of defensive linemen already agreeing on deals elsewhere since the legal tampering period began on Monday.

This makes life difficult for the Panthers, even though there are still plenty of intriguing options available. It has been an underwhelming start to free agency for a frustrated fanbase who wants to see some real strides being made in the second year of Matt Rhule’s reign, which Kerr will no longer be a part of.

There is absolutely no doubt Kerr will get another contract elsewhere. His production in 2020 almost guarantees that.

As for the Panthers, something big might be in the pipeline. This is still the very early stages of recruitment and general manager Scott Fitterer did warn everyone he would be taking a patient approach.