Two former Panthers named among worst free-agent signings

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Mike Davis
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Mike Davis /

Two former Carolina Panthers players were named among the worst free-agent signings of the 2021 offseason so far.

It’s been a busy offseason period of comings and goings for the Carolina Panthers as the team looks to build on a solid first year under head coach Matt Rhule. Some notable signings were made with a view to improving the defensive side of the ball. But the shrinking salary cap has ensured some productive players last time around are now on different teams across the league.

This is all part of the business and something the Panthers no doubt planned for. However, it’s hard to look at their roster as it stands and not think much more will be needed to keep them heading in the right direction.

Another strong batch of college recruits from the 2021 NFL Draft is essential. There is also the possibility of bringing in some additional veterans that can assist immediately on short-term deals with $23.45 million in salary-cap space remaining. So if the likes of Rhule and general manager Scott Fitterer can make the right decisions in the coming weeks, some real progress won’t be far behind.

As for those who are no longer on the roster, they’ll look to make an impact in new surroundings and make the Panthers pay for not showing the required faith in them when they had the chance.

Former Carolina Panthers named among worst signings by The Bleacher Report.

Alex Kay of The Bleacher Report recently published a feature detailing the worst free-agent signing so far for every NFL team. Carolina’s unsurprisingly went to offensive lineman Cam Erving following his largely inconsistent career since being selected in the first round back in 2015. But there were two former stars who also featured on the list.

One such player was Curtis Samuel, who jumped ship in favor of a big-money move to the Washington Football Team after finally putting everything together in 2020 to achieve 1,000 yards-from-scrimmage for the first time.

The switch reunites Samuel with former Ron Rivera. Therein lies the problem, according to Kay, with the player’s production under the head coach in Carolina called into question.

"“Unfortunately for Samuel, he landed with a team that employs the same head coach he played under during the first three years of his career when he struggled to become the impact player he ultimately developed into following the Carolina Panthers’ regime change. Getting anything less than the 2020 version of Samuel would result in an ugly blemish on an otherwise-promising free-agency period.”"

Kay does have a point. Rivera found it difficult utilizing Samuel’s skill set in the right way almost from the moment he was drafted in the second round out of Ohio State. But whether this is a trend that will continue in Washington with so many other playmakers around him remains to be seen.

Another ex-Panther who made it onto the worst signings list was Mike Davis. The running back performed well in Christian McCaffrey’s absence last season to go over 1,000 all-purpose yards, which resulted in the veteran gaining a free-agent move to the Atlanta Falcons on a two-year deal.

Davis will see plenty of his former team in two NFC South divisional clashes in 2021. But Kay was skeptical about whether the South Carolina product can make the same impression for a Falcons offense that relies a lot less on the run game thanks to some outstanding weapons at wide receiver.

"“This seems more like the type of signing a contending team with a bit of spare cap space might make to shore up the running back platoon, and that’s not exactly a fitting description for a Falcons franchise coming off a four-win campaign. While Davis will be a helpful addition to the backfield, he barely moves the needle and costs this squad some valuable cap space in the process.”"

Only time will tell as to whether these signings will work out or not. Every free-agent addition is a leap of faith, to a certain extent. But the Panthers were right to move on from the duo given the money it would have taken to keep them around.

Must Read. 4 Carolina Panthers players on the hot seat after offseason moves. light

There is every chance both Samuel and Davis shine on new teams despite this projection. But considering the money involved, they better had.