Carolina Panthers 28-year-old free safety Sherrod Martin was only able to play in nine games and partake in 279 snaps due to injuries, as Martin landed on the IR after tearing both his MCL and ACL in his right knee in the Panthers loss in early December to the Kansas City Chiefs. Martin, a former second-rounder, started some games but was out for others in what was a mediocre year for Martin.
The Charlotte Observer expects the Carolina Panthers to let Sherrod Martin walk, as he is an impending unrestricted free agent. It’s sad that he will likely be let go due to the knee injuries, because the Panthers just don’t know if he’ll be effective coming back from both a torn ACL and MCL.
Martin was actually okay in 2012, as he was above-average in coverage to make up for some poor work in run defense. Martin actually improved in 2012 from his poor showing in 2011, because his coverage was more steady. However, he has never been much of a run defender at the safety position, even if run defense isn’t as highly valued at free safety. I don’t think his coverage makes up for his run defense, and the Panthers could use an upgrade with Martin’s impact post-injury still unknown.
Another reason for the Panthers likely letting Martin walk is their ghastly cap situation. Martin won’t command a large contract, but the Panthers can’t afford to spend money on someone who is an uncertainty. If Martin isn’t retained, though, the safety position will become an even bigger weakness unless if the team can find an upgrade there. Martin, after all, is the team’s best safety and is clearly better than missed-tackles-machine Charles Godfrey (15 last year undermined his average work in coverage).
Martin is the team’s best safety, so I think the Panthers should be open to bringing him back on a cheap, one-year deal that carries basically no risk. The Panthers don’t really have a better option in place, and this team can’t afford to get even worse in the secondary, especially if they want to clear cap room by releasing Chris Gamble (please don’t do that). The Panthers have been rewarded in having faith in an injured player’s return before, but they have also been unlucky with that as well. It’s a tough choice, but the Panthers should keep Sherrod Martin on the terms I listed earlier in the paragraph.
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