When Carolina Panthers quarterback Garrett Gilbert got the call on Monday night that he was being promoted to the 53-man roster from the practice squad, it was a bit of unexpected news.
“They said, ‘Would you like to come back up here?’” Gilbert said. “I said absolutely. Not that it’s necessarily going to change much in my daily routine or anything, but it certainly was a surprise.”
Gilbert has been on the team’s practice squad since he was waived in September. Carolina originally waived him to make room for former University of Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya, who was waived on Tuesday morning.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera explained Tuesday that Gilbert’s knowledge of Carolina’s system was too valuable to let him go. With a number of quarterback injuries around the NFL this weekend, including Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ broken collarbone, there was a chance that another team could have swiped Gilbert off the practice squad to bolster its depth chart, even though Gilbert said no other teams had contacted his agent “to my knowledge.”
“We did what we did because of a couple of injuries around the league,” Rivera said. “The concern is you lose a guy like Garrett who knows your system, and that’s one of the strengths we have with a young man like him. He’s a young up-and-comer, strong-armed guy, been in the system for a year now.
“We like Brad, we like what Brad did. We brought him in so we could take an extended look ... but we had to protect ourselves with Garrett.”
There is a chance Kaaya ends up on Carolina’s practice squad if he clears waivers, but for now Gilbert is the third man on the depth chart behind Cam Newton and Derek Anderson. He was a sixth-round draft selection of the Rams in 2014 after playing at Texas and SMU in college. Gilbert has bounced around the NFL since then, but in the preseason, he completed 29 of 50 passes for 317 yards.
Gilbert said he’ll continue to work with quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey between periods, and that his main focus is improving.
“I think things will continue to go the same,” Gilbert said, “and we’ll see from there.”