CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Carolina Panthers made 38 moves on Friday and Saturday, trimming their roster to the NFL-mandated 53 players. Here’s a closer look at the final moves:
Most significant move: Have to go with one that hasn’t been made yet. The current roster includes veteran place-kicker Graham Gano and rookie kicker Harrison Butker. Both have been the subject of trade talk, so look for the organization to find a home for one and then likely looking to add depth with that roster spot with a player in the defensive secondary. Moving on from Gano would save the team $3.25 million in cap space, but does coach Ron Rivera really want to go into the season with a rookie at a key spot? Carolina did move on from veteran punter Andy Lee in favor of Michael Palardy, which isn’t a huge surprise. Rivera said the competition was even going into the final preseason game, and Palardy comes at a lower price tag -- a $540,000 cap figure for Palardy compared to $2.2 million for Lee. Palardy also had a better preseason, averaging 47.5 yards on 10 punts compared to 45.9 for Lee.
Secondary help: Look for the Panthers to be busy finding help. They put backup cornerback Teddy Williams on injured reserve and waived/injured backup corner Zack Sanchez. After top three corners James Bradberry, Daryl Worley and Captain Munnerlyn, they have little experience. Rookie Corn Elder missed the preseason with a knee injury and Cole Luke is an undrafted rookie. This has to make the staff nervous. The safety spot also is thin, as the Panthers kept starters Kurt Coleman and Mike Adams and backup Colin Jones. This could be where one of the kicker spots could be used. An intriguing option could be three-time Pro Bowl selection T.J. Ward, released by the Broncos. The issue here would be that the 30-year-old Ward would want a starting job and the Panthers seem content with Adams and Coleman. But Adams is 36.
Making it on merit: Fullback Alex Armah and wide receiver Kaelin Klay were long shots to make the roster when training camp began. Both played well enough in the preseason that they made players such as third-string quarterback Joe Webb and fullback Darrel Young expendable. Armah was considered a project when the Panthers selected him in the sixth round, but he made enough plays on offense and special teams to deserve a roster spot. Few plays in practice got more of a reaction than Armah’s leveling of a Tennessee player during a special-teams drill in a joint practice. Clay’s 127 yards receiving led the Panthers during the preseason. At 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, he is reminiscent of another former Carolina receiver out of Utah (Steve Smith, 5-9, 195, the team’s all-time leading receiver).
Released (24) -- LB Ben Boulware, C Brian Folkerts, CB Devonte Johnson, DT Gabriel Mass, DE Arthur Miley, DE Efe Obada, DT Connor Wujiak, TE Bryce Williams, OL Blaine Clausell, LB Zeek Bigger, DT Eric Crume, WR Austin Duke, S Dezmen Southward, DE Bryan Cox Jr., QB Garrett Gilbert, RB Jalen Simmons, WR Keyaris Garrett, WR Mose Frazier, DE Zack Moore, DE Larry Webster, DT Toby Johnson, TE Eric Wallace, CB Jeff Richards, S Damian Parms.
Terminated vested veteran (4) -- QB Joe Webb, P Andy Lee, WR Trevor Graham, FB Darrel Young.
Waived/injured (1) -- CB Zack Sanchez.