The Carolina Panthers announced Monday morning they have released cornerback Brandon Boykin after signing him to a 1-year deal in March. Boykin was seen as a Gettleman type of move of bringing in a guy who had shown playing ability, but found himself struggling to find a good fit. The idea the time was to put Boykin in the slot and move Bene' Benwikere to the outside across from Josh Norman. A lot has changed since then, and Boykin looks to be a casualty of these changes.
Panthers standout cornerback Josh Norman left Carolina abruptly after botched off-season contract negotiations, which ended in General Manager Dave Gettleman rescinding the franchise tag. Carolina then went and drafted three cornerbacks in rounds 2,3, and 5. James Bradberry and Daryl Woodley were big guys who could work into outside corner roles in the future while Zack Sanchez looks to be a nickel corner in Carolina.
While at first glance, it seems that Carolina's draft style looked to throw a bunch of defensive backs at the wall and see which one sticks, it probably wasn't the idea to start a Division II cornerback (Bradberry) alongside Benwikere or Robert McClain and then throw another rookie in the slot. It's never been Carolina's style to put so much game responsibility on guys with so little experience. It took Josh Norman several years to establish himself as a starter. Carolina even eased Kawaan Short into the starting lineup gingerly, and it was clear early he was going to be a player.
So where does Carolina go from here? Do they walk into training camp after a 15-1 season and a trip to the Super Bowl believing they can make do with Benwikere (3-yrs exp), Robert McClain (8 yrs exp), James Bradberry (rookie), Daryl Worley (rookie), and Zach Sanchez (rookie) at cornerback, while backed up by Kurt Coleman, Roman Harper, and Tre' Boston at safety?
Current Panthers Cornerbacks
- James Bradberry
- Bene' Benwikere
- Robert McClain
- Daryl Worley
- Zack Sanchez
- Shaquille Richardson
- Teddy Williams
- Lou Young
Dave Gettleman didn't foresee the recent shuffling at cornerback when he signed Boykin in March. Expecting Boykin to play nickel as Carolina shifted Benwikere to the outside made sense. The draft fell a certain way, and Carolina bet a lot on guys who could work to be starters in the future. If Gettleman stuck with this group, Carolina would have had a bunch of guys they think know could work at nickel, but nobody who was proven on the outside. What if Bene' simply turned out to be just better at nickel than on the outside? Why would you not move him back to a position he plays best at?
In the end, this signals that Gettleman isn't done remaking this secondary. There isn't enough experience or depth on the roster to endure either injury or poor performance. Outside of Bene' Benwikere, there isn't an established starter on the roster. Gettleman right now must be eyeing a veteran or two who can play on the outside. For a team who has been so reluctant to give too much latitude to young players, it would seem foolish to think he wasn't. What do you think? Drop a comment below!
Notable Free Agents
- Antonio Cromartie
- Alan Ball
- Chris Culliver
- Cortez Allen
By the Professor, aka Tony Dunn