Those who aren’t paying attention this offseason won’t recognize the Carolina Panthers’ secondary next year. Starting cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and starting safety Mike Mitchell have both signed elsewhere and the team isn’t expected to bring back Drayton Florence or Quintin Mikell, who are both free agents. General manager Dave Gettleman has already made some nice, cost-effective moves to supplement the secondary, signing former Pro Bowler Roman Harper and former first round pick Antoine Cason. The changes may not be over though.
Charles Godfrey, who missed the final 14 games of 2013 and carries a $7.1 million cap figure into next season, could be the next casualty of the secondary if he’s unwilling to take a pay cut or the team doesn’t trust his health. “He’s part of the evaluation. He’s got to get healthy first,” Gettleman said at the league meetings in Orlando last week. “We’re evaluating.” Gettleman’s tone when discussing Godfrey comes across as eerily similar to the comments he made regarding Steve Smith prior to releasing him.
Furthering the notion that Godfrey may not be around much longer is that the Panthers are bringing in safety Thomas DeCoud for a visit next week, according to the Charlotte Observer. DeCoud was a starter for the Atlanta Falcons the past five seasons and made the Pro Bowl in 2012. However, after recording a career-low 44 tackles last season, he was cut by Atlanta to create cap space. Should Carolina sign DeCoud, he would be the second safety from the NFC South they’ve signed this offseason, joining Harper, who played with the New Orleans Saints. Having two safeties who played against Drew Brees and Matt Ryan respectively in practice every day has to appeal to Gettleman and Ron Rivera.
It remains to be seen if DeCoud’s visit is just a smokescreen by Gettleman to provoke Godfrey into taking a pay cut, but this is a clear indication he is viewed as dispensable by the organization.