The Los Angeles Chargers released right guard Trai Turner on Friday, just one year after acquiring the former five-time Pro Bowler from Carolina. The move saved the Bolts $11.5 million in cap space.
The Panthers, on the other hand, are in dire need of offensive lineman this offseason.
Three of Carolina’s five starting offensive lineman from 2020 are unrestricted free agents. That’s left tackle Russell Okung and both guards, John Miller and Chris Reed. Michael Schofield is also set to hit the market.
Will Trai Turner sign in Carolina?
Former Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman took Turner in the third round of the 2014 draft and his choice paid immediate dividends. Turner won the starting right guard position over veteran Chris Scott during the preseason of his rookie year.
The following season Turner began an excellent five year run between 2015 and 2019 that saw the LSU product earn Pro Bowl nods every season.
Even the Cowboys admitted that, had they not traded up to select Boise State’s Demarcus Lawrence, they would have taken Turner.
However, it’s tough to see Turner rejoining the Panthers.
What’s more likely is that both men involved in the trade made in March of 2020, Turner and Okung, will move on to different teams.
Gettleman is long gone, now heading up the New York Giants, while Riverboat Ron Rivera has similarly moved on to Washington.
New head coach Matt Rhule may not be as inclined to bring back Turner. That’s because he and former general manager Marty Hurney got rid of Turner not two months into Rhule’s new job as head coach of the Panthers.
Since Gettleman drafted him, Turner was not one of Hurney’s guys. While Hurney did follow Riverboat Ron to Washington, one can imagine Hurney may not be first in line to sign Turner.
It was also likely Gettleman’s fingerprint all over the four-year, $45 million extension Turner signed, just three days before former owner Jerry Richardson fired Gettleman.
He didn’t play especially well last season
Turner won’t command the 11.25 million annual average value (AAV) that his agent Drew Rosenhaus negotiated with Gettleman back in 2017. Look for a more appropriate number somewhere around $7 million to $8 million.
He started nine games for the Chargers in 2020 and didn’t perform well. For most of the season he dealt with a lingering groin issue.
*If you have a weak stomach, I advise you to look away*#Chargers overall OL grades from PFF in 2020:— Michael Peterson (@ZoneTracks) February 12, 2021
Sam Tevi - 52.9
Forrest Lamp - 49.4
Dan Feeney - 48.2
Trai Turner - 34.8
Bryan Bulaga - 61.6
Tough to see how the 13th-overall pick isn't going to be used on OL.
Turner finished an ugly 79th out of a possible 80 guards in the NFL in Pro Football Focus’ guard rankings. Only rookie Giants guard Shane Lemieux finished with a worse grade. In fact, Turner regressed in his PFF grade every year since 2017, falling from 73.8 to 67.9 to 63.9 to 34.8.
He can’t possibly get any worse after a disastrous 2020 season.
Moreover, not everyone is always sold on PFF grades. Wyatt Teller, a former Buffalo Bills castaway from the 2018 draft, is the top ranked guard from 2020 with a 92.3 grade. He made a miraculous jump from his first two seasons, when he earned grades of 56 (while with the Bills) and 60 (with the Browns).
Now, with the NFL’s third-highest rushing offense, Teller is suddenly the top-ranked guard. His fellow guard, Joel Bitonio, was PFF’s fifth-highest ranked guard in 202. Were Teller and Bitonio really the elite guards PFF ranking suggest their are, or was Cleveland’s running offense simply elite as a group?
Trai Turner ranked last among 70 qualifying guards in pass block win rate in 2020.— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) March 12, 2021
Ranked 3rd in the same category in 2018.
(ESPN / Next Gen Stats)
Perhaps Turner, who is from New Orleans and played for the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge, might prefer signing with the Saints and play against his old team in the NFC South.
Whether the Panthers will take a second chance on their former Pro Bowler remains to be seen.
What about you, Panthers fans? What do you think?
Should the Panthers reunite with Turner?
This poll is closed
Yes, but let’s sign him cheap