The start of any winning season begins on July when teams start evaluating their talent and setting strategies. The results of those decisions are typically in the form of roster transactions.
So I've looked back as far as the start of training camp and have identified the 5 best transactions the Panthers made through the 2012 preseason and regular season. Note in order to keep it positive I’m not including IR transactions (for another day). Here they are in chronological order:
1. 7/24/2012 – The very first transaction in late July was a trade with the Raiders for WR Louis Murphy. The Panthers gave up a conditional 7th round pick in exchange for a 4th year wideout who also happened to be a chum of QB Cam Newton. Murphy played in all 16 games with 5 starts. He caught 25 passes for 364 yards and 1 TD; his longest reception was 55 yards. I would say that’s worth a 7th round pick considering how young he is (25) and his comfort working with Cam Newton. I would not sleep on Murphy in 2013.
2. 8/2/2012 – I tried to keep these positive but this one was too big to pass over. Big as in ‘Big Man’ and ‘Big Bust’. On this day the Panthers finally, and I mean finally, parted ways with OT Jeff Otah. Though a sad day really given the wasted potential but the move was key for it allowed the offensive line staff to move on from the forever-injured tackle. Otah logged only 29 starts in 4 seasons (~7 per season). One door closed but another opened for UDFA Byron Bell. Bell had filled in admirably in 2011 but none were sure he could be a full time starter at RT. Though he is far from being elite he has played in 31 of 32 games since the Panthers brought him and looks to be solid starter going forward should the Panthers decide to focus on upgrading other positions.
3. 9/2/2013 – After the Panthers made their final roster cut and decided on their practice squad they quickly snapped up the just-cut from the
Ravens Bills DT Dwan Edwards. The Panthers immediately released former 3rd round DT Terrell McClain and never looked back. Edwards was essentially a God-send to the front four as the Panthers finally got a guy that could get penetration from the UT spot. Edwards started 14 games logging 52 combined tackles and a career high (by a lot) 6.0 sacks. Though Edwards is 31 and probably due to make more than we could pay a younger guy I would like to see him back in 2013. I lot probably hinges on our draft strategy.
4. 10/24/2012 – Of these top 5 transactions this one was easily the least noticed at the time it happened. I’m not even sure we covered it on CSR other than a passing mention in a Paw Prints piece. Two days after the loss of CB Chris Gamble in the week 7 loss to the Cowboys the Panthers signed CB James Dockery. The 2nd year CB out of Oregon St. went undrafted but has nice size at 6’1" 185 lbs. Dockery didn't play right away but eventually saw a lot of snaps in the Panthers final four games, getting two starts. Most importantly Dockery played inspired ball and seemed to be a catalyst in the secondary supposed devoid of talent.
5. 11/21/2012 – In a slightly surprising move the Panthers released K Justin Medlock and signed former Redskin K Graham Gano. While I wasn't sold that Medlock deserved to be cut there is no doubt Gano brought some confidence back to the kicking game, which was also a surprise. Gano was coming off two wretched seasons in Washington; In 2010 he made only 68% of his FGs and in 2011 he had 5 kicks blocked and missed 25% of his FGs. Yet for the Panthers he was more consistent on kick offs and nailed 9 of 11 FGs (82%).
Every year teams make seemingly minor transactions at the time but they can play big down the road. We have a new guy pulling the trigger on them in 2013 so I’m excited to see how the roster unfolds in 2013.
My next post on this topic I will provide the gory details; all 124 transactions including the numerous, dreaded ‘IR’ transactions. Stay tuned…