The Carolina Panthers have found their replacement for departed safety Mike Mitchell, who quickly signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers to replace their impending free agent FS Ryan Clark. Mitchell was a tough loss for the Panthers to swallow due to his youth, leadership, breakout 2013, and ability to play at either safety spot. The Panthers showed interest in Clark, but they have decided to sign a different safety who has been on their radar for a few days.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Panthers have agreed to a two-year, $4.5 million deal with a $1.5 million signing bonus with former New Orleans Saints safety Roman Harper. The deal is cheap so it can’t be truly disliked, but the Saints easy cap casualty is a clear downgrade on Mitchell. He isn’t even close to being as good in coverage as Mitchell, but at least he has experience and is a very good blitzing safety.
It’s going to be interesting to see what the 31-year-old’s role with the team will be, but all he does at this point in his career is rack up tackles and run safety blitzes. I fully expect him to line up exclusively as a strong safety when Charles Godfrey, who excels in deep coverage, is lined up as the FS next to him. This deal is definitely an inexpensive one for the Panthers, and Dave Gettleman likely decided to sign the long-time rival S over Clark due to his cheaper price tag. He can also make plays, and options at the safety position were thin anyway. The Panthers, of course, still need plenty of help at CB, OT, and WR for obvious reasons.