Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers trade Kony Ealy to New England Patriots

Panthers DE Kony Ealy hoped to build off historic Super Bowl stats

Carolina Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy's Super Bowl performance didn't open his eyes, he says, but the eyes of others. He's looking forward to build off his historic play against Denver.
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Carolina Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy's Super Bowl performance didn't open his eyes, he says, but the eyes of others. He's looking forward to build off his historic play against Denver.

On the same day the Carolina Panthers brought back one of the franchise’s best pass-rushers, they sent another, once-promising edge rusher packing.

The Panthers traded fourth-year defensive end Kony Ealy and a third-round draft pick to New England for the Patriots’ second-round pick, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported. The Panthers moved up eight spots by swapping their third-round pick (72nd overall) for the Pats’ second-round pick (64). Carolina still has a comp pick (No. 98) at the end of the third round.

It’s a stunning fall from grace for a player who might have been the MVP of Super Bowl 50 had the Panthers beaten the Denver Broncos. Ealy had three sacks, an interception a forced fumble and a fumble recovery against Peyton Manning in the Broncos’ 24-10 victory in February of 2016.

But Ealy failed to build on his big night in Santa Clara, Calif.

After seven years away from the Carolina Panthers, Peppers is returning home.

He had five sacks all of last season, and frustrated coaches with a stubborn streak that general manager Dave Gettleman compared to Josh Norman’s early in the cornerback’s career.

The Panthers have loaded on experienced edge rushers, re-signing Mario Addison, Wes Horton and Charles Johnson and agreeing to terms with future Hall of Famer Julius Peppers.

Those additions made Ealy expendable.

The second-round pick in 2014, who lost his starting job to Horton last season, had 14 sacks in three seasons with Carolina.

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson

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