The Carolina Panthers have once again been quiet in free agency and spent a majority of their time focusing on bringing back their own players. However, they have signed three free agents that have addressed areas of need and provided depth at center with Gino Gradkowski, defensive tackle with Paul Soliai and safety with Trenton Robinson.
While none of the three players are expected to start for the Panthers this season, they will provide the team confidence that if they are needed they can step in as starters. They have proven this at different points in their careers and having this type of depth is valuable to a team hoping to make a return trip to the Super Bowl.
Gradkowski started every game for the Baltimore Ravens in 2013 at center. He lost his job in 2014 and was traded to the Denver Broncos to compete for their starting job in 2015 but was released prior to the start of the season.
Soliai has been a starting tackle in this league almost his entire career since he was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 2007. He has been selected to the Pro Bowl in 2011 and was a highly sought after free agent in 2014 when he signed with the Atlanta Falcons. However, the team had saw a change in defensive philosophy this past season and Soliai didn't fit in the team's scheme.
Robinson, who was signed on Monday, got a chance this past season to start seven games after Washington Redskins' starting safety Duke Ihenacho suffered a wrist injury that put him on injured reserve. Robinson unfortunately saw his first chance to start cut short as well as he suffered a hamstring injury that ended his season early.
Injuries have become a part of the game for NFL teams and their jobs during the offseason is to plan and hopefully limit the impact of injuries to a team's success. The Panthers have been able to do that by making these moves in free agency and adding players who have experience starting for long stretches at their position.