2 Panthers signings named among worst in free agency so far

(Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports) Pat Elflein
(Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports) Pat Elflein /

Two signings made by the Carolina Panthers have been named among the worst so far during the first week of 2021 free agency.

Overall it has been a good start to free agency for the Carolina Panthers. General manager Scott Fitterer has managed to negotiate some shrewd pickups that could make an instant impression in 2021. But much more will be needed in terms of recruitment if the organization wants to enter the ever-competitive playoff picture next time around.

The Panthers have primarily focused their attention on strengthening things from a defensive standpoint, which now sees them with a unit loaded with talent that might only be a solid cornerback away from being one of the league’s best. They also managed to offset the departure of Curtis Samuel to the Washington Football Team with the additions of David Moore and Dan Arnold, who should be assets in the passing game.

However, there were two particular signings that more than raised a few eyebrows.

Carolina opened their free-agent announcements with Pat Elflein and Cam Erving, two offensive linemen who came into the NFL with big reputations without ever living up to this so far. It’s hard to look at these arrivals and think they’re going to significantly strengthen protection that went through plenty of difficulties last season outside of stud right tackle Taylor Moton.

Carolina Panthers OL signings named among free agencies worst so far.

This is a view that is shared by Doug Farrar of The Touchdown Wire, who named Elflein and Erving among two of his worst signings of free agency so far in a recent article.

The writer gave plenty of reasonable arguments behind placing them on his list, with Elflein’s struggles with both the Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets there for all to see last time out.

"“His versatility makes this an intriguing addition, given his experience at center and both guard spots. That could prove beneficial as Carolina looks to restructure their offense, perhaps with a new face at quarterback. But he will need to vastly improve on last year’s performance to make this a worthwhile investment for the Carolina Panthers.”"

Although Erving might have a Super Bowl win from his time with the Kansas City Chiefs, the lineman has looked like a lost sheep protecting the edge during his career and didn’t assist that much for the Dallas Cowboys in 2020.

Farrar called Carolina’s decision to sign Erving a “throwaway” deal, with versatility obviously being a big factor in the Panthers opting to give the veteran another chance to prove himself.

"“Well, the Panthers are making moves along their offensive line. We’re just not quite sure what they are.  Perhaps the Panthers see Erving as a value free-agent because he’s played all over the line, but neither the tape nor the metrics point to this as anything but a throwaway deal.”"

Make no mistake, these are not the only moves Carolina will be making to strengthen their protection options this offseason. There are still plenty of intriguing names out there on the veteran market who might be willing to play for less in the current climate. It would also be a shock if the Panthers didn’t allocate one of their top selections in the draft on solidifying this area next month.

Elflein and Erving might prove people wrong. But their arrivals probably indicate the lack of faith Carolina’s coaching staff has in the depth behind its potential starters than anything else.

There are plenty of twists and turns to come in the not-too-distant future. So it might be a case of the pair being rotational pieces and nothing else when it’s all said and done.