After not taking an offensive lineman in the draft, the Carolina Panthers and guard Michael Schofield agreed to a one-year deal.
When the Carolina Panthers take the field in Week One of the 2020 season, the offense will look very different. Gone is former franchise quarterback Cam Newton, Greg Olsen is now a Seahawk, and the offensive line is projected to have three new starters. One of those new offensive linemen is guard Michael Schofield III. Earlier this week the Panthers and Schofield agreed to a one-year contract that brings him to Carolina after spending the past three seasons with the Chargers. The 29-year-old also spent three years in Denver, and was a member of the 2015 Broncos squad that defeated the Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
Schofield will join two new incoming starters up front for the Panthers, and already has familiarity with several players.
Since the hiring of new head coach Matt Rhule in January, the Panthers have seen more player turnover than perhaps any other team in the league. That turnover includes the offensive line. Trai Turner, Greg Van Roten, and Daryl Williams all started at least 11 games up front for Carolina in 2019, and all three are now with different teams. To replace them, the Panthers traded for Russell Okung and signed John Miller away from Cincinnati before signing Schofield this past week.
Okung and Schofield have spent the last four seasons as teammates in Denver and Los Angeles, and are now reunited in Carolina. The pair will likely team up on the left side of the line of scrimmage this season, with Okung at tackle and Schofield at guard. Matt Paradis, who is also a former teammate of Okung and Schofield’s, is entering his second year at center for the Panthers, while Miller will likely start at right guard next to incumbent right tackle Taylor Moton.
Despite being on the market for so long, Schofield has been a reliable player throughout his career.
Often times when a player is left unsigned for a while, it indicates some sort of “red flag.” With Schofield though, there really isn’t much to be worried about. He started all 16 games for the Chargers in each of the past two seasons, and has only missed four games since being taken in the third round of the 2014 draft. He has played both guard and tackle in the NFL, so he also has the versatility to move around if needed. In addition to that, he has also been a good player as well.
Schofield has graded in the top half of the league at his position every year in which he has played guard, including this past year in which he was given the 15th-highest pass-blocking grade out of 81 players according to Pro Football Focus. He gave up just one sack in 2019, making him one of just 12 players who played at least 1,000 snaps to do so. While he wasn’t nearly as sought after as Patriots guard Joe Thuney was this offseason, Schofield is still a perfectly good player. Rhule will no doubt be looking to change the team’s direction in 2020, so bringing in a solid player like Schofield to help anchor the left side of the line can only help.