The Panthers are only 9 days away from the start of their bye week, the best time of the season to make roster changes, because new players will have an extra week to adapt to their new teams system before their first game.
The Panthers are now 1-2, facing tough games against the Falcons this week, and the nightmare pass rush of the Seahawks (8 sacks in the 1st half alone, against the Packers last week), going into their bye week. If they lose these 2 very tough games, then they will enter their bye week with a 1-4 record (at least 3 games behind the Falcons), almost certainly ending any playoff hopes. So, will the Panthers then accept the fact that this season is effectively over, and start building for next season?
Reasons S Sherrod Martin will not be back next year:
1. Sherrod Martin will be an URFA at the end of this season.
2. Martin has only received enough playing time in the first 3 games to record 1 tackle.
3. The writing is on the wall, in big bold letters, "Martin, your HC doesn't want you".
4. The Panthers probably won't offer Martin more than a minimum contract to re-sign, if even that, and he can do better than that.
5. Martin would be out of his mind to re-sign with the Panthers, they have already made up their minds that they no longer want or need him (right or wrong).
So, what are the Panthers options?
1. Do Nothing, just let things play out during the rest of this season.
2. Let Martin play out this season, and then walk away.
3. Try and trade Martin before, or during the bye week.
4. Just cut Martin at some point?
What are the Panthers possible trade options for Martin?
1. Trade Martin for a 2013 draft pick (probably around a 6th round pick, give or take a round). These teams are in need of S help, Cowboys, Eagles, Lions, Colts, Dolphins, Browns, and Bengals (they just re-signed Chris Crocker). However, the Panthers could just keep him, and risk getting a 2014 draft pick in that same range.
2. Trade Martin to the Lions - S Sherrod Martin and DT Sione Fua or Frank Kearse to the Lions for 5th year backup NT Sammie Lee Hill (6-4, 329, 5.11-40), who has some pass rush ability to go along with his bulk. Both Martin and Hill are in the last year of their contracts. Though Hill was a FA this offseason, the Lions chose to only re-sign him to a 1 year contract, for $1.25 million (so Martin and either Fua or Kearse contracts roughly balance out Hill's). Also, both the Panthers and the Lions share the same bye week, October 7th. However, a monkey wrench poped up in the last few days, Lions NT Corey Williams had his knee scoped this week, and may miss a couple of weeks, so the Lions probably won't want to trade Hill until Williams fully recovers.
3. Trade Martin to the Bears - This trade is a real longshot, with some hoops to jump through, and probably can't happen. When I first thought of this, the Bears seemed to need S help, but Wright and Conte have since played pretty well. Bears 3rd round pick this year was S Brandon Hardin (6-2 5/8, 219, 4.38-40, 6.65-3 cone drill, 4.03-20 yard shuttle, and 24 bench reps), who suffered a neck injury in the first preseason game, and was placed on IR, though he said his neck should be fine by around the 2nd week in the season. Sort of trading the past for the future. I know you can return from IR and play in the same season, if your cut, and signed by another team, but I doubt you can trade a player while he's on IR (though not totally certain). Anyway, the Bears focus is now on finding a replacement for 1 sack a game OT J'Marcus Webb, but I'm sure they will look for a better OT than Garry Williams. However, they might think anyone would be enough of an improvement to get them to the Super Bowl.
Who could the Panthers replace Martin with?
1. S/CB Ron Parker (6-0, 206, 4.34-40, 1.54-10), from the Practice Squad
2. S Keanamana "Mana" Silva (6-0 3/4, 206, 4.41-40, 40 inch vertical), cut by the Cowboys yesterday
3. S/CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (6-1 1/4, 207, Combine "official" 4.47-40, "unofficial" 4.32-40, Pro Day 4.30-40), the #126 pick of the Cowboys. He hasn't panned out so far, being cut by the Jaguars, Raiders, and the Cowboys (twice), but he seems to have the raw material (size and speed), also having 7 TD's on punt and kick returns in college. He might be worth a Practice Squad shot, to replace Parker if he moves up.