When the Carolina Panthers announced their 53-man roster on this past
Saturday by the 4:00 pm EST deadline, many fans were mostly pleased with
the players that made the team. However, there were some surprise cuts
made 24 hours later; and a trio of mostly unknown players claimed off the
waiver wire were now added to the roster. Needless to say, this lead to some
head-scratching reactions throughout the Panthers Nation. Let’s investigate
what happened and the reasons why general manager Marty Hurney made
Who was released and why: Twitter accounts by Carolina Panthers related
sources flooded the newsfeed with the news that the team had released WR
Torrey Smith, RB Elijah Holyfield and CB Kevon Seymour. Each one of the
players had fans divided in opinions all summer long over if they should be on
the final roster or not.
Smith was looking to bounce back as a reliable deep threat in the Panthers
offense from an injury filled 2018 season. Hurney said the decision to cut
Smith was “…very difficult because he is a classy guy and a proven leader on
the team on and off the field.” He also said that the team wanted players at the
5th and 6th receiver to be able to contribute on all four phases on special
teams. This was not something that Smith could not provide in his 9th season.
His release had zero impact on the salary cap because his 2019 salary of $3M
was not guaranteed.
Holyfield was an undrafted rookie RB from University of Georgia that became
quickly popular with fans as the longshot player to be backup to RB Christian
McCaffrey. When the roster was announced that RBs Jordan Scarlett and
Reggie Bonnafon also made the team, it was puzzling why the position was
four players deep. Despite his 2 TD performance at Chicago and a few nice
plays here and there, it was clear to see his best efforts could justify keeping a
roster spot at a loaded position.
Seymour spent a large part of training camp and preseason missing from a
hamstring injury. He had already missed the entire 2018 season with both
shoulders injured. Despite having a very strong performance in the final
preseason game vs. Pittsburgh it was not strong enough to lock in a place in
the defensive backfield.
Who was signed and why: When it was announced that the Panthers claimed
DB Natrell Jamerson and WRs Brandon Zylstra and Ray-Ray McCloud off
waivers, it sent a vast majority of Panthers fans scrambling to find out who
they are and what they can do.
Jamerson is a 5-11, 201 lb. defensive back who played for the University of
Wisconsin from 2014 – 2017. After playing as a WR his freshman year, he
switched to playing CB his sophomore and junior season seasons and then
switched to playing safety his senior year. That year, he had 32 tackles (61
career), 3.5 tackles for loss (5.0 career), 1.5 sacks, 2 INTs with 1 returned for a
TD and 10 pass deflections (14 career). He also showed kickoff return
abilities with 38 returns for 784 yards with a 20.6 yards per return and 1 TD
return. He was the defensive MVP in the 2018 East-West Shrine Game. During
the 2018 NFL combine he ran a 4.4 time in the 40-yard dash, 25 bench reps,
35.5 inches vertical jump and a 10 foot broad jump. His draft profile stated his
strengths were: speed, football IQ, solid tackler, man coverage skills and
special teams. The weaknesses are covering big receivers and hesitant at
times when tackling downfield. The New Orleans Saints drafted him 5th round
in the 2018 Draft but waived him on the final roster cutdown. He was
immediately picked up off waiver by the Houston Texans and played in 10
games, which yielded seven tackles and one pass deflection. In December
2018, he was waived but was quickly picked up by the Green Bay Packers in
which during his time there only made three tackles. He was waived this past
Zylstra is 6-2 and 220 lb. wide receiver who played at Concordia College in
Moorhead, MN from 2013 – 2016. In 29 games, he had 120 catches for 1932
receiving yards with 16.1 yards per catch along 18 TD catches. He was also
one of the top track and field athletes at the school who broke records. He
went to North Dakota State’s Pro Day in 2016. He had a 4.6 time in the 40-
yard dash, 1.64 seconds in the 10-yard split, 2.75 seconds in the 20 yard split,
7.19 time in the three cone drill, 34 inches in the vertical jump, 10 ft 8 in broad
jump and 16 bench reps. After going undrafted in the 2016 NFL Draft, he
signed a two-year contract with the Edmonton Eskimos in the CFL. In the
2017 season, he led the league in receiving with 1687 yards. This led to
getting a 3 year rookie contract with the Minnesota Vikings in January 2018.
He played on all 4 special teams’ units in 16 games last season. He was waived
this past Saturday.
McCloud is 5-10 and 190 lb. wide receiver and punt returner who played at
Clemson University from 2015 – 2017. In 39 games, he had 127 catches for
1226 receiving yards with 9.7 yards per catch along with 4 TD catches. He also
had 18 carries for 106 rushing yards with 5.9 yards per carry. He also
returned 25 punts for 303 yards with 1 TD returned. After his junior season
he declared for the 2018 NFL Draft. At the combine, he ran a 4.53 time in the
40-yard dash, 13 bench reps, 34.5 inches vertical jump and 9 ft 5 in broad
jump. The Buffalo Bills drafted him in the 6th round.
Summary: Hurney said that Jamerson will play both CB and safety on defense
along with all four special teams including gunner on the punt team. Zylstra is
also being brought in to play all the special teams’ units along with being an
option as a possession receiver. McCloud is going to get a legitimate shot to be
the returner on both punts and kickoffs and can be used as a slot wide
receiver as well.