When the Carolina Panthers drafted Christian McCaffrey with the eighth overall pick they instantly improved their rushing attack. Unfortunately, that move also means there is one less Panthers player from last year that will see the Bank of America field this season. Lets take a look at the roster and try to decipher how it will work out.
There are currently five running backs on the Carolina Panthers roster. Only two names are a definite lock to make the final roster, Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey. I think we can all agree on those two. That leaves three names for one position.
Fozzy Whitaker just signed a two year contract extension in March. However, that deal did not include any signing bonus so the Carolina Panthers could release him without much penalty as far as the salary cap is concerned. Throw in the fact that Whitaker’s style of play is probably the most replaceable by Christian McCaffrey and one might start to wonder if Fozzy is the odd man out.
Cameron Artis-Payne might be the more likely player to lose his roster spot. Although he can be a between the tackle runner in the mold of Jonathan Stewart, he has struggled to see the field. In fact, he has often found himself inactive on Sundays even when Jonathan Stewart was not 100%. I have to think this is the biggest indicator for his future. Panthers GM Dave Gettleman has shown a willingness to release his own draft picks lately if they have not performed to his expectations. If Artis-Payne does not improve, he may be the next to go.
Local product Jalen “Scoot” Simmons worked from the underdog role to making the Panthers practice squad last year. It would be easy to assume Simmons won’t be on the regular roster this year, but I am not counting him out at this point. Scoot is highly thought of by the Panthers and has shown the drive needed to take it to the next level. Yes, it is a long shot, but I do love a local kid working his way onto the roster. I’ll be pulling for him.