Installment #12: We Continue to Retool
I have always tried to refrain from using the term, "rebuild" when it comes to my favorite NFL team. I like to call it retooling, because they are slowly getting rid of pieces that they had for years, while adding new pieces that will help them in the future. I believe that the hope for this strategy, is that the Younger players will get the chance to have at least a year or two of development with the vets before it's their turn.
This passed week, the retooling of the Carolina Panthers continued as they let go of more long-time players on defense. On February 16, the team released veteran all-pro defensive tackle Kawann Short. Short, who turned 32-years-old at the beginning of the month, has only played in five games in the last two seasons due to nagging shoulder injuries. He had the second-highest cap hit on the roster going into 2021, and the Panthers will save $8.6 million worth of cap space with the move.
Every penny is needed for a lot of NFL teams including the Carolina Panthers. The league's salary cap is dropping more than 23 million dollars from $198.2 million to $175 million for next year. This factor, along with Short's age and injuries in back-to-back seasons made Tuesday's transaction inevitable.
When he was healthy, Kawann Short produced consistently for the Carolina Panthers. He had 32.5 quarterback sacks in his first six pro seasons. Short was in Charlotte for eight years, and the team will be looking for another big hole to fill at the defensive tackle spot.
As far as sacks go, guys like linebacker Brian Burns are coming into their own. He had nine sacks last year. Also, former soccer player turned defensive end Efe Obada saw some time and did well. The Nigerian player from London was second on the team with five sacks in 2020. But the Panthers may still need to find talent at the DT position that can come close to Short's productivity.
The Panthers parting ways with Kawann Short was the second big move of the offseason. The first was the hiring of former Seattle Seahawks executive Scott Fitterer as the team's new general manager back in January. I don't know much about Scott Fitterer. He seems like a nice guy and he comes from a traditionally great team up there in Seattle so, maybe he's got a plan.
I did know and grew close to Kawann Short. As a fan I mean. Yeah, he is getting old and yeah, he has been injured a lot recently. But I think the younger guys on defense may have benefitted from just his presence for another year. But as before stated, the money isn't there. All a part of the process. I guess. Whatever works. I as a diehard fan, just want to see them put a team together that will eventually produce a Lombardi Trophy for the city of Charlotte and the surrounding region. Then, I can write about that!
STATS AND HONORS FOR KAWANN SHORT
· Since 2013, his 32.5 sacks are tied for sixth-most among all NFL defensive tackles.
· He recorded a career-high 11 sacks in 2015, which was tied for most sacks among all NFL defensive tackles that year.
· He had four games with two or more sacks in that same NFC Championship-winning season, which was second-most in the NFL.
· He ranks seventh in franchise history with his 32.5 sacks. This is the most sacks by any Carolina Panthers defensive tackle.
· He led a very good Panthers defense with the 11 sacks in 2015. It was the most sacks by a defensive tackle in Panthers history.
· He made the Pro Bowl in 2015 and 2018.
· He was selected to the AP All-Pro Second Team in 2015.
· He was selected to the PFWA All-NFC team in 2015.
· He was selected to the PFWA All-Rookie team in 2013.
· He was NFC Defensive Player of the Month in October and December, 2015.
· He was NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 6 in 2015.