This is Part 2 of my recap of last weekend and all the moves the Panthers made during and after roster cuts. Read part one here.
Hurney’s Second First Trade: For the first time the NFL adjusted the rules of the cut down process to eliminate the 75 man cut down and just have one cut period where the rosters would go from 90 to 53. As a result, there were a ton of players scheduled to hit the waiver wire/open market all at once. One thing that was pretty noticeable were the amount of trades made league wide. I guess GM’s were trying to get ahead of the market a little bit.
I’m a big trade guy. Those are always fun for me regardless of the sport. Not all trades work out in your favor and the initial transaction isn’t always something to be happy or excited about, but as someone who loves player transactions in general, I love a trade. I love deep diving into a guy trying to figure out how we just landed the missing piece to a future title run and how the new pieces mesh with the existing ones. It’s just fun.
The trade Marty Hurney made wasn’t a big headline grabber, but I like the end result for the team. Hurney flipped WR Kaelin Clay and a 2019 7th round pick for Buffalo 2016 6th round pick DB Kevon Seymour. To be honest, I don’t know much about Seymour other than what I’ve read and watched of him post trade. His stats as a rookie were pretty solid. He made 15 appearances and 3 starts as a rookie last year and only allowed one reception for every 14.8 snaps he had on the field which was the best mark for any rookie DB last season (including James Bradberry & Daryl Worley).
In Seymour, the Panthers inherit a guy with three more seasons of control and can slot in as depth on the outside and inside right away. Given the fact that he’s been working in a Sean McDermott system all summer, the defense under Steve Wilks shouldn’t be too hard for him to pick up. It’ll be important that he’s ready by Sunday since UDFA Cole Luke is dealing with a nagging ankle injury.
The dynamic of the trade interests me as much as anything. Hurney told the press that he was the one who initiated the call to his old buddy Brandon Beane in Buffalo. That makes sense due to Buffalo receiving a pick as part of the return compensation. My guess is that the scouting department under Dave Gettleman had pretty high marks on the kid during the 2016 draft vetting process. Makes me wonder if Dave and the staff were looking at Seymour as a possibility for the pick that ended up going to Zack Sanchez, another 2016 DB draft pick that was waived over the weekend.
When Sanchez was picked, he was marked as a guy that could develop as a nickel corner due to his size and instincts that could also fill in on the outside as needed. His performance as a rookie was certainly less than inspiring and even after playing pretty well during the preseason, he left the Pittsburgh game with a groin injury and was waived without going on IR and wasn’t even brought back on the practice squad. Pretty telling that they were ready to move on from him.
Buffalo is a rebuilding team. They have been selling players like Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby away for band aid replacements and draft capital. When you look at what the Panthers gave up to get Seymour, it falls in line with what Buffalo has been doing. Kaelin Clay had a nice August and earned his spot on the roster, but the Panthers already have speedy receivers and return specialists in Byrd and Samuel so he was surplus and likely not to get much burn. The 7th round pick was a throw in given that Seymour is the higher ceiling player to even out the trade. The fact that Buffalo got a player back in the deal in general makes me wonder if they asked for someone like Byrd instead and had to settle on Clay and a pick (which they need) when the Panthers politely declined. In the short term, Clay gives Buffalo a deep threat they can rotate in and value in the return game.
All in all I liked the trade for Carolina. It won’t move the needle, but it helps give them quality depth at a spot they needed it.
Working the Waiver Wire: The trade wasn’t the only work Hurney did to acquire players over the weekend. He also spent some time on the waiver wire making a couple of successful claims to add some more depth to the roster.
The most notable move he made will be the one the provides the least amount of impact up front and that was picking up the rights to Brad Kaaya. The Lions took Kaaya in the 6th round of this year’s draft and opted to go with Jake Rudock as the backup instead. I personally like the move low key — it still doesn’t make me miss Joe Webb less — but I like it. My faith in Derek Anderson has been waning along with most of the fan base the past couple of seasons and I have felt that it might have been in the Panthers interest to have invested a late round pick in a developmental QB the past couple of years.
Carolina is lucky to be set with a franchise QB, but having a young backup you can develop is never a bad idea. They may not start, but if they show out in camp or spot snaps here or there, they become a tradeable asset. Carolina hasn’t had a young QB in the pipeline since 2011 when they drafted Cam. Jonathon Jones of SI mentioned that Hurney was a big advocate of Kaaya pre draft while he was still hovering around the media prior to reclaiming his GM post. Kaaya effectively comes in as a Hurney draft pick for this season. Perhaps it will work out, perhaps it won’t, but having Kaaya around to learn from Cam for a season isn’t a bad thing. Important to remember that Derek Anderson is a free agent at the end of the season.
The other selection was Demetrius Cox from Cincinnati. Cox was a UDFA this year out of Michigan State and can play both safety spots. He comes to Charlotte as just the fourth safety on the roster and will be looked at to play right away. I don’t know much about Cox’s game or skill set, but he had a nice game against Tampa during week one of the preseason.
Practice Squad Notes: The ten players (eleven this year for Carolina) that usually fill out the practice squad are always a big talking point at the time they’re established, but rarely do these guys come up and play.
Fan favorite Alex Armah is the headliner of the class. He’s a young fullback that has shown some skills, but he is still raw so having a year on the practice squad will benefit him going forward. The Panthers were also able to stash a couple of safeties that I thought had decent showings this summer, but the fact that they were stashed prior to us picking up Cox off waivers was interesting.
Eric Crume is the most likely player to get called up in case of injury with Love and Butler both banged up.
Everything is in full go and it’s time for the big boys to separate themselves. I like what the Panthers have done so far and I think they have a squad that can compete for a playoff spot. We should see some more roster moves over the next couple of weeks, but for now, it’s time to focus on beating the 49ers on Sunday.