I believe that not only will Armanti Edwards make the Carolina Panthers' final roster, he will have his best NFL season in 2013. As against the odds as this task may seem, it is my opinion that Armanti Edwards is in better favor with the current Panthers coaching staff than he is with many regulars here at CSR. After the jump we'll address a number of reasons why Armanti will be given a shot, and succeed, at making the Panthers' final roster in 2013.
1) 2013 is going to be an evaluation year of the entire organization. From players like Armanti, Jimmy Clausen & Tedd Ginn all the way up to Head Coach Rivera, many in the organization are only under contract for 2013. There are 25 Panthers that will become free agents in 2014 including Edwards' fellow WRs LaFell, Gettis, Hixon & Ginn. The receivers under contract past this upcoming season are Joe Adams, Pilares, Lamont Bryant, James Shaw and Steve Smith. From everything both Rivera and Gettleman have indicated publicly, there will be open competition at WR/PR/KR among the current roster members; and seeing as how half of the WRs are in the final year of their contracts, and none other than Smith (maybe Hixon & LaFell) are proven commodities, there is no reason to believe that any of them are assured a roster spot or to be cut.
2) Armanti Edwards has improved greatly as WR/PR from 2010. Now i know many of you are saying , "But he still sucks." But the Panthers have been converting/developing Edwards as a WR for three years; in 2012 AE showed some flashes in his limited opportunities. He only returned 2 punts in 2012 and one of them was a 70-yarder in the season finale that set up the game clinching TD on the very next play. After 3 years of hard work & development, AE is finally starting to flash the potential that he was drafted for - cutting him now, before training camp, would be like investing in a 4 year bond only to sell it 3 years in and not getting your original investment back. AE knows the score too, as evidenced by this quote from Scott Fowler's piece on him in January of 2013:
“I’m just going to go into this offseason like I did the last one,” Edwards said. “Get better, improve on being an all-around receiver and hopefully I’ll get more playing time.” As for his development over the past three years, Edwards said: “You look back from year one to now I’d say it’s been great. (In 2010) I couldn’t run routes, couldn’t get off the jam. Now I’m confident. I’m getting off the jam. I’m running any route.”
3) Edwards' competition is not ahead of him. The Panthers scouting department obviously wasn't won over by the 2013 WR draft prospects, opting not to draft a single WR despite scouting many of them. While Smith, LaFell and Hixon are probably front runners to be the starting receivers for the Panthers in 2013, after that the depth chart is totally up in the air. Gettis & KP are both question marks coming off season long injuries; Shaw, Bryant and Adams are even less accomplished in the NFL than AE; and while Ginn and Barner have been brought in during the off-season to compete for return duties, both have some problems holding onto the ball(as well as Adams). Ginn is presumably an upgrade as a return man, but he too is coming off injury, is aging for a PR/KR in the NFL and fumbled 4 times in 2012. If the trajectory of Armanti's improvement holds its course from previous seasons, then he might be the most reliable returner on the Panthers roster in 2103.
4) AE has untapped versatility and new offensive coaching staff to work with in 2013. In 2012, every WR EXCEPT AE ran an end-around out of the backfield. Chud (the genius) never used AE in that capacity: amazingly stupid. Your converted QB WR with a laser left arm never gets used out of the backfield?? WTF?! Hopefully Shula, Proehl & co will be more creative and sensible in the use of their offensive weapons. Not to mention that Edwards has value as a back up QB, is inexpensive and is a hardworking professional with a great attitude...
What do you think will happen with Armanti Edwards and the Panthers going forward?