For this free agent signing, and all signings from this point forward, we will be breaking the move 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? Did the team over spend or did they get a steal?
Score: 19 out of 25
Jason Trusnik entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2007 when he signed with the New York Jets. He spent two and half seasons there before being traded to the Cleveland Browns in the Braylon Edwards trade. He had the most starts of his career at linebacker while in Cleveland with 15 starts in 28 games and career numbers in tackles (56) and sacks (2.5) in 2009.
The past four seasons he has played for the Miami Dolphins, primarily as a special teams specialist. The Dolphins last year suffered a number of injuries at the linebacker position and Trusnik had a chance to start six games, primarily at inside linebacker.
Score: 21 out of 25
On special teams, Trusnik will be a perfect fit for the Panthers and should step in immediately as the leader for this group. The question with Trusnik though is how he might fit in the Panthers’ defense.
He has primarily played in a 3-4 defense or a variation of a 3-4 defense from his time with Eric Mangini on the Jets and the Browns to the past couple of seasons with the Dolphins. He will either be the back up to Luke Kuechly at middle linebacker or asked to switch to weakside linebacker and compete for a starting role.
Score: 23 out of 25
The Panthers desperately needed a player like Trusnik for their special teams and he really helps solidify this part of the team. On the defensive side of the ball, the 30-year old linebacker could go fill one of two roles.
If he hopes to start, he will need to play the weakside position with Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis manning the other two positions. He would have to beat out veteran A.J. Klein and second year player Adarius Glanton for that starting gig.
If he is not able to earn that weakside linebacker position, Trusnik is the perfect player to back up Kuechly at middle linebacker. He is an excellent run stuffing linebacker and while he is not on the same level as Kuechly, he would be able to step in at a moments notice.
Score: 25 out of 25
According to Spotrac, Trusnik signed a one-year deal worth $950,000. General Manager Dave Gettleman and the front office has done an excellent job this offseason addressing needs and doing it with financially smart deals.
Score: 88 out of 100
Jason Trusnik is an eight-year veteran who has starting experience at the linebacker position and is a proven leader on special teams. Trusnik should at the very least be considered an option at weakside linebacker and provides insurance at middle linebacker for Luke Kuechly.
The biggest impact he will have next season will be on special teams and will be one of the keys to the turn around to this group. This is a quality move that fits within what the Panthers have been trying to achieve this offseason.