The Carolina Panthers brought in two notable veterans for workouts yesterday in former Philadelphia Eagles slot receiver Jason Avant and former Atlanta Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud, who were both released by their respective teams. Avant was signed to a one-year deal that is almost certainly at the veteran minimum, but DeCoud’s future remains in a bit of flux. The Charlotte Observer’s Joe Person reports that while nothing has been agreed to, both sides are still in talks.
Signing Avant is an easier decision than DeCoud, because the Panthers have a much bigger need at wide receiver than at safety. They signed veteran wideout Jerricho Cotchery after he racked up touchdowns for the Pittsburgh Steelers last year, and he was a solid addition to Cam Newton’s depleted wide receiver corps. Cotchery has more inside-outside versatility than Avant, who was probably signed because he’s dirt cheap, carries no risk, and makes up for his lack of speed and athletic ability by being very smart and possessing excellent hands. Dave Gettleman also seems to love good locker room guys, and Avant is just that.
The upgrade that DeCoud would provide is more murky, especially since Charles Godfrey is set to start at free safety following last year’s season-ending injury. Both DeCoud and Godfrey miss too many tackles, but Godfrey is the better player because he’s better in coverage and has more experience with the team. DeCoud is a very hit-or-miss player, and the Panthers already signed a hit-or-miss NFC South safety who was released this offseason in Roman Harper. Unless if DeCoud comes at a very low price, I don’t think it makes much sense for the Panthers to add him. But if he is cheap, then he’s the kind of playmaking safety who could bounce back behind the Panthers elite front seven.