Panthers Meet with Free Agent Michael Oher

The left tackle position is one of the top priorities for the Carolina Panthers this offseason. The team met with Michael Oher recently to see if he is the man to protect Cam Newton's blindside.

When news broke earlier this month that the Tennessee Titans were cutting Michael Oher, the Carolina Panthers seemed to jump to the top of the lists as possible fits. The fact that the free agent market is pretty bare when it comes to left tackles this year, the addition of Oher would make sense. He played right tackle in Tennessee as well as in Baltimore but started his career playing on the left side for the Ravens.

According to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, it looks like the interest could be mutual with the veteran recently visiting with the team. Oher was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round in 2009 and spent the first five years of his career playing both left and right tackle for the team. Last year he tested the free agent market and decided to sign a five-year, $20 million contract with the Titans.

It was a rough year for Oher who started the first 11 games of the year for the Titans but finished the year on injured reserve with a toe injury. The team was able to release him earlier this month with a waived-injured designation. Pro Football Focus credited him with six quarterback sacks and 26 quarterback hurries in those 11 games.

 

Why would the Panthers be interested in Oher?

Oher provides the team with a backup plan if they are not able to draft a left tackle who could start right away. This would give the team time to assess the rookie and not necessarily rush him out on the field too quickly.

However, if that rookie is able to step in right away, the team would have much needed depth at the tackle position with a player who has shown an ability to play on either side. In a shallow free agent market, he is also the player with the most starting experience at the position. This kind of move would be low-risk, with a high upside potential.

 

Why would Oher be interested in the Panthers?

The Carolina Panthers seem to have the easiest road to earning back a starting left tackle job. The team’s starting left tackle a season ago, Byron Bell, is a free agent and not expected to return. The only potential candidate under contract right now would be David Foucault, who struggled significantly in one start last year.

If Oher was looking for a chance to prove that he is capable of being a starting left tackle in the NFL, signing a one or two-year deal would seem to benefit both parties.


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