Examining the curious situation between Carolina Panthers and Marquan McCall

The situation between Marquan McCall and the Carolina Panthers was bizarre.
Marquan McCall
Marquan McCall / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

There were more then a few raised eyebrows when the Carolina Panthers waived projecting starting nose tackle Marquan McCall earlier this week.

Things can change quickly in the NFL. Marquan McCall found that out to his cost this week when he was unceremoniously dumped by the Carolina Panthers to make room for cornerback Troy Hill.

Releasing a second-year undrafted free agent wouldn't be big news in normal circumstances. However, this warrants further investigation when one considers what's unfolded throughout the offseason so far.

McCall's been a steady riser since the Panthers began workouts. The formidable nose tackle was even projected by many to start on Ejiro Evero's 3-4 base interior with Derrick Brown and Shy Tuttle alongside him.

Why did the Carolina Panthers waive Marquan McCall?

The former Kentucky star performed well during their first preseason outing against the New York Jets and didn't do anything terribly out of the ordinary last Friday at home against the New York Giants. Therefore, going from potential starting involvement to being cast aside entirely seems especially bizarre.

When probed about the decision by Carolina's beat reporters on Monday, head coach Frank Reich stated via Sports Illustrated that it was a fit issue that deemed McCall surplus to requirements with just a few short weeks remaining until their season opener at the Atlanta Falcons.

"These are always tough decisions. We appreciate his contribution. Honestly, we're doing it now because we think he's going to be on a roster somewhere it just comes down to two things. It comes down to a fit for us and what we're trying to do and then we've had a couple guys at that position who have really looked good. I think for us in our scheme, there's more nuances to it than the traditional thing, so I'll just leave it at that."

Frank Reich via Sports Illustrated

While Raequan Williams and Taylor Stallworth have flashed - especially in their second preseason outing - McCall's full body of work is arguably more impressive. In terms of fit, there's nobody who'd stand to benefit more from being a space-hogging nose tackle with so much dynamic talent around him across Carolina's front seven.

One could speculate that something's happened with McCall behind the scenes that forced the Panthers into this move. Although it's unlikely we'll find out for sure given how Reich likes to keep things like this firmly in-house.

The Panthers also said they wanted to give McCall ample time to make another roster. That seems gracious of them - especially if they'd decided he wasn't going to feature despite being the odds-on favorite to secure the starting nose role.

Some fans weren't pleased with Carolina's decision to part ways with McCall. Others are wondering why there is so much fuss surrounding a player with 15 career tackles in 16 games.

That's ignoring McCall's role - or at least what some perceived it might be before this news became official. He represented an intriguing development project with eye-catching explosiveness for a man his size, so for those in power to completely remove him from the equation came out of the blue.

Whether there's more than meets the eye here is anyone's guess. Carolina's outstanding coaching staff should be fully trusted until further notice, especially when it comes to molding this roster into one that could potentially mount an NFC South title challenge in 2023.

This was a little out of left field, there's no getting away from that. But make no mistake, the Panthers wouldn't have taken such drastic measures if they didn't think it could benefit the team.

McCall should get on another team quickly thanks to some unique traits the lineman brings to the table. He deserves immense credit for carving out a role for himself after failing to hear his name called during the 2022 NFL Draft, even if it didn't end up being anything more than a short-term arrangement.