The Carolina Panthers made a series of curious offseason decisions in regards to releasing veteran players in order to deal with salary cap issues and give young guys the opportunity to play. Among these players were third-year wide receiver David Gettis, starting offensive lineman Geoff Hangartner and standout linebacker James Anderson.
Arguably the most surprising player that was cut was veteran cornerback Drayton Florence. A journeyman who has played for the San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos, Florence brought depth and a wealth of experience to an otherwise unproven secondary.
Although he was certainly not the shutdown corner that the retired Chris Gamble was for Carolina, he still had good football left in him. Most importantly, he could have been a coach and mentor for Josh Norman, Josh Thomas and the other young Carolina corners.
Head coach Ron Rivera clearly wants his young corners to learn on the run, but when looking at the receivers on the other squads in the NFC South, you can’t help but scratch your head and think about how much Florence would help.
Marques Colston, Roddy White, Julio Jones and Vincent Jackson are all immensely talented receivers who had their way with Carolina’s cornerbacks last season. Even upon watching last week’s matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, who do not have a very strong receiving core (without Percy Harvin, that is), Carolina’s secondary failed to cover the long passing plays when it truly mattered.
Only time will tell if cutting Florence was a good or bad move. Those corners are going to have to grow up in a hurry if Carolina plans on contending in the brutal NFC South this season.