The Panthers’ 53-man roster was set for all of about two hours Saturday before it wasn’t anymore.
Panthers interim GM Marty Hurney pulled off a trade with his former assistant Brandon Beane, sending wideout Kaelin Clay to Buffalo and a seventh-round pick in 2019 in a deal that brought second-year cornerback Kevon Seymour to Charlotte.
Seymour, a sixth-round pick from USC last year, can play inside and outside corner and gives the Panthers more depth at a spot where they were a little thin. Seymour missed time during training camp with foot and shoulder injuries and struggled in coverage as a rookie.
Clay becomes the latest ex-Panther to jump on the Charlotte-to-Buffalo train, following Bills head coach Sean McDermott, Beane and several players.
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As for the rest of the Panthers’ roster, it would be a stretch to call it finalized considering there are as many kickers as quarterbacks on it.
Here are seven things to know about the moves the Panthers made to get to 53, and what moves they might make yet:
1. They’ll roll the dice at quarterback.
The Panthers clearly think Cam Newton’s surgically repaired shoulder is healthy because they’ll open the season with just two quarterbacks for the first time since 2013. Joe Webb, the third QB/emergency WR/special teams ace, was the odd man out when the team decided initially to keep six receivers before Clay was dealt.
Webb was well liked by teammates and coaches, and this was a deal that didn’t go over well in the locker room. The Panthers also waived No. 4 QB Garrett Gilbert, and will start the season with Newton and longtime backup Derek Anderson as their only quarterbacks.
2. Kicking competition continues.
One of the Panthers’ most interesting position battles still isn’t decided. Veteran Graham Gano and rookie Harrison Butker both remain on the roster, as Hurney works the phones to see if he can get anything in return for either of them via trade.
Hurney has kept two kickers before, but one was always a kickoff specialist. That’s not the case this year, and it’s hard to see both guys sticking around very long.
What the Panthers have to decide is whether a team with playoff hopes can trust a rookie who had a solid summer or if it is more comfortable with a veteran who keeps banging 50-plus-yard field goals off the uprights.
3. Panthers choose a new (sorta) punter.
The left-footed Michael Palardy won the punting job over veteran Andy Lee, officially taking over for the guy he replaced on a temp basis last season. Palardy had a strong summer to beat out Lee, whose leg strength did not seem the same at it did in 2016 before he tore his hamstring in Week 10.
Lee is out a year after Gettleman sent a fourth-round pick in 2018 and punter Kasey Redfern to the Browns to acquire Lee and a seventh-round pick this year (which the Panthers used on Butker). Lee took a pay cut during the offseason,but the Panthers will still carry $2.3 million dead money after cutting him. They’ll save about $325,000 against the salary cap.
4. The new GM kept all of the old GM’s draft picks.
Dave Gettleman was praised for not cleaning house in the Panthers’ front office when he took over for Hurney in 2013. On Saturday Hurney built a roster that included all seven of Gettleman’s draft picks from the spring, including seventh-round kicker Butker. Two of those rookies – third-round DE Daeshon Hall and fifth-round CB Corn Elder – have been hurt. But leaving them on the active roster is a good sign that both could be ready to play soon.
5. Paging T.J. Ward?
Veteran Colin Jones is currently the only backup safety on the roster, behind starters Mike Adams and Kurt Coleman. The Panthers have at least kicked the tires on former Broncos S T.J. Ward, who was cut in Denver. Whether it’s Ward or another safety, this is another spot on the roster that still needs attention.
6. Alex Armah bulled his way on to the roster.
Armah had the look of a project when he was a drafted in a late round (sixth) out of a small school (West Georgia) at a position (fullback) he didn’t play in college. But the former DE/LB/TE made a big impression with his athleticism and physicality. His bulldozing of a Titans defender in a special-teams drill was the highlight of the joint practices in Nashville.
7. Injuries affected interior line depth.
The Panthers’ interior offensive line depth became younger after veterans Gino Gradkowski and Chris Scott failed to make the 53-man roster. Gradkowski, who had knee surgery last year, was placed on IR with a back injury, while Scott was released after being sidelined the past two-plus weeks with a concussion.
Tyler Larsen, who started at center the last five games in 2016, was a lock to make the roster as Ryan Kalil’s backup. But former Penn lineman Greg Van Roten, who flew under the radar all preseason, ended up sticking.