To Keep or Not to Keep: Antwan Applewhite

Hello all! After the Shockey article, I got to thinking. Who else could be a casualty of our over the limit cap? Antwan Applewhite was one of our biggest waiver acquisitions last year, and a very good rusher off the edge.

2011 Stats


Sacks Interceptions Tackles
G Sacks YdsL Int Yds IntTD Solo Ast Total
2011 - Antwan Applewhite 10 2 15 0 0 0 17 6 23

Not included in the stats listed are his 4 pass pressures, 1 pass deflection, and a safety.

Why keep him?

Applewhite's stats on paper aren't all that impressive, but considering the limited amount of time to learn the system, and that he was splitting time with Thomas Keiser and playing behind Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson, he was a very effective player when he was on the field. I can remember multiple occassions where he was in the backfield getting pressure off the edge, even in 4 man rush situations. In addition, we saw him line up at different positions the whole season. He saw time at both defensive end positions, 3-4 outside linebacker in our 3-4 packages, and even 4-3 outside linebacker. He was a solid change-of-pace player who made some big plays, including a big-time safety in the first half against Atlanta to jumpstart the team. However, he also had been blown up in run support on more than one occasion, so Applewhite will probably never start as a 4-3 defensive end, leaving us with limited options if Johnson or Hardy were to be knocked out for an extended period.

More on Antwan Applewhite after the jump

2012 Outlook

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Antwan Applewhite's deal with the 49ers before being waived was for $500,000. The question is, will we be able to retain him by giving him the bare minimum again? As for his play time, if we are able to retain Applewhite, we will have a solid rotation of defensive ends (and that's including if we don't draft one) with Johnson and Hardy as the starters, backed up by Keiser, Applewhite, and Norwood. In addition, Sean McDermott's defense is a blitz happy, aggressive defense that wants to get after the quarterback. He was able to use Applewhite as the 3-4 OLB and a 4-3 rusher in varying situations this past season. Applewhite gives us some options for different packages and formations, and is a special teams factor, after making roughly 3 tackles on special teams last season.

X-Factors: Eric Norwood and the Draft

And this is where Eric Norwood comes in to play. Antwan Applewhite is essentially what we want Eric Norwood to be, a situational pass rusher. Though Norwood hasn't done much for us yet, he was a very promising college athlete, and a 4th round pick. The question is does Rivera give him a shot to compete, or do we keep an already established contributor who really has hit his ceiling as a player?

Then comes the draft. Many draft mocks have us taking guys like Quinton Coples, Courtney Upshaw, and Melvin Ingram. If we do take a guy like that, Applewhite or Norwood would become basically an afterthought, because the first rounders are going to play. If we take any of the pass rushers in the first round, Applewhite will see significantly less snaps, which would have him sitting on the bench and playing primarily special teams.

In conclusion, we can retain an average talent for an average price. We know what we can get from Applewhite, a guy who can play different positions and be decent, but not great. What do you think Panthers fans?

-C2SAD

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