Grading the Panthers' Move of Jonathan Martin

On Friday, the Carolina Panthers decided to claim offensive tackle Jonathan Martin off of waivers after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers. PantherInsider.com’s Brandon Croce hands out his grade for the Panthers’ addition of Martin and how he fits on this team.

This move, as are all moves, are broken down into four categories. Each category is worth up to 25 points and a final grade will be handed out based on the total score. These are the definitions of each category:

Player- How has the player produced to this point in his career? Where does he rank among other players at his position?

Team Fit- How does he fit within the offensive or defensive scheme?

Team Need- Is this position a weak spot on the roster? Does this move strengthen the position?

Contract- Is this a reasonable contract based on production? How does this fit in the salary cap?

 

Player

Score: 14 out of 25

Jonathan Martin was drafted in the second round by the Miami Dolphins in the 2012 NFL Draft and became the starting right tackle immediately. He started all 16 games his rookie season at the position and then shifted to left tackle before his second season to replace Jake Long.

The second season with the Dolphins was cut short when he decided to leave the organization. He was the target of a bullying scandal involving teammates Richie Incognito, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey. Last offseason he was traded to the San Francisco 49ers and he started nine games at right tackle for them last year. He was released by the team on Thursday before being claimed by the Panthers on Friday.

Even though he has a lot of starting experience since coming to the NFL, the performance hasn’t been great. According to Pro Football Focus, he has a career rating of -46.0 and has given up 19 sacks in 32 starts. However, he is only 25 years of age and certainly still has time to reach his potential of being a starting offensive tackle in the NFL.

 

Team Fit

Score: 19 out of 25

One of the areas Jonathan Martin struggles in is his run blocking, which Pro Football Focus has given a career rating of -12.7. Last season was actually his worst of his career playing on a 49ers offense that was a running team with a rating of -6.5.

It will be interesting to see what direction this Panthers offense takes in 2015 and how this fits for Martin. If the team leans heavily on the run, Martin is not the right guy to man either tackle position however a more balanced attack may help mask some of Martin’s struggles.

 

Team Need

Score: 22 out of 25

In terms of need, the Panthers claiming Martin makes a lot of sense and Carolina could be the perfect fit for him. The Panthers need depth at the offensive tackle position and bringing a player like Martin, who has experience at both left and right tackle, is a great move.

As for Martin, the fact that the Panthers right now have their starters as Michael Oher and Mike Remmers could be the best thing for him. This would give him time to practice and develop his game rather than trying to learn on Sundays. A year of developing his game could go a long way in reviving his career.

 

Contract

Score: 24 out of 25

According to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer, the Panthers will pay Martin $1 million dollars for Martin over the final year of his contract. In terms of finding a player with this type of starting experience at this price tag is a steal. The fact that Martin will be a free agent after this season gives the Panthers time to evaluate the player and see if he is a long term fit with this offense.

 

Total Score: 79 out of 100

Grade: C+

What has been a regular storyline this offseason, the Carolina Panthers continue to make a low risk move that could pay huge dividends. It is very hard to find offensive tackles on the free agent market with the type of starting experience Jonathan Martin has for a one-year, $1 million deal.

At the very least this move provides depth at the position and also provides flexibility heading into the NFL Draft. The team continues to make moves to put them in a position to draft the best player available and not have to reach for a certain position.


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