3 Veterans the Carolina Panthers Must Part with Before the 2014 Season

Jonathan Stout@@jastout89Contributor IIMarch 13, 2014

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 22:  DeAngelo Williams #34 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 22, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Thirteen-year veteran wide receiver Steve Smith has been released from the Carolina Panthers. After weeks of speculation, general manager David Gettleman pulled the trigger, sending arguably the best player in franchise history packing.

Along with Smith, veteran offensive linemen Geoff Hangartner and Jeff Byers announced their retirement from the NFL, following in the footsteps of Jordan Gross who announced his retirement two weeks ago.

With the release of Smith, Gettleman has shown sentiment will not play a factor in his decision-making with the team, a problem that has plagued the team in years past.


DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart

Seven-year, injury prone veteran Jonathan Stewart and eight-year pro DeAngelo Williams are long overdue for a change of scenery.

The days of the “Smash-and-Dash” dynamic duo of Stewart and Williams are long gone. Equally long gone is the day when the organization could have traded one of the tailbacks for a high return.

Stewart restructured his contract this offseason, cutting his cap hit from $1.5 million to $785,000; Williams restructured his deal last season, earning him $13 million for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Stewart has played only 15 games in two seasons and started just seven. In those two seasons, Stewart tallied 516 yards, one touchdown and averaged 3.7 yards per carry. 

Williams, the healthier of the two, hasn’t broken the 1,000-yard mark since the 2009 season. Last year, the former Memphis standout gained 843 yards, tallied three touchdowns and averaged 4.2 yards per carry.

With not many legitimate options remaining in free agency, and the NFL draft running back class not being as deep as years past, the prospect of cutting one of the two Panthers’ backs isn’t very high.

However, if the right deal surfaces during this offseason, whether for a pick in the upcoming draft or a player that will help the team in another area, the Panthers should seriously consider it.


Charles Godfrey

Godfrey is the eighteenth highest paid safety in the NFL with a $5.5 million average yearly cap hit, according to OverTheCap.

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 16:  Charles Godfrey #30 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 16, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Godfrey has been average at best for the Panthers. He tallied back-to-back seasons with more than 80 tackles, 84 in both 2010 and 2011. In addition to his 84 tackles in 2010, Godfrey picked off five balls, recorded 70 solo tackles and had eight passes defended.

Since the two back-to-back 80-plus tackle seasons, Godfrey’s production has more than dropped off. In 15 games during the 2012 season, he recorded only 69 tackles and two interceptions; last season he played two games after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury. 

Godfrey’s potential is there, but his lack of production—season-ending injury—should be a red flag for the Panthers’ front office.

With Mike Mitchell’s departure to Pittsburgh the decision to let Godfrey go may be difficult, but there are “cap friendly” players available via free agency or in the NFL Draft. 


Dwan Edwards

Edwards, 32, is the oldest player on the squad, and if the team wants to shed cap space and get younger, the Oregon State product should be let go. 

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 23:   Dwan Edwards #92 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after a sack with teammate  Frank Alexander #90 during their game against the Oakland Raiders at Bank of America Stadium on December 23, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The 11-year veteran “hog molly,” as Gettleman would say, has been productive during his two seasons with the Panthers, but it’s time for him to go.

In his first season with the team he tallied 52 tackles and six sacks in 14 games but in his second he recorded only 19 tackles and three sacks in 11 games.

Star Lotulelei and Kawaan Short are now the anchors of the defensive line. Of course the team needs depth at the defensive tackle position but not an 11-year veteran whose contract hit is $1.25 million, according to OverTheCap.