For this free agent signing by the Carolina Panthers, 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?
Grade: 20 out of 25
Kyle Love was an undrafted free agent and joined the New England Patriots prior to the 2011 season and worked his way to a starting role in their defense for the 2012 and 2013 season. Over that stretch, he had 58 tackles and 4.5 sacks however he was released after the 2013 season when he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
After a brief stop in Jacksonville with the Jaguars, he was signed by the Panthers during the 2014 season as added depth to the defensive tackle position. He played in only one game but it was a pivotal game as he replaced an injured Star Lotulelei in the NFC Divisional Round against the Seattle Seahawks.
This past season he saw his role expand and finished with his best season since his time with the Patriots and finished with 19 tackles, three sacks and one forced fumble in 15 games.
Grade: 25 out of 25
Love is a perfect fit for this defense, not only his performance in this defense but the role he plays for this team. The strength of this position not only lies with the starters but the depth as well. The fact that the Panthers have been able to rotate four defensive tackles regularly throughout the game makes them that much more effective.
Love is a player who has shown to be effective in limited snaps but has starting experience, including in one Super Bowl. The Panthers should feel confident inputting Love into the starting lineup if the need arises.
Grade: 23 out of 25
The past couple of seasons the Panthers have been able to rotate four defensive tackles at the position with Colin Cole and Dwan Edwards in 2014 and then Edwards and Love in 2015. The Panthers had released Edwards after the season but signed free agent Paul Soliai.
However, with Love being a free agent, the Panthers were missing that fourth tackle to rotate through. This will allow the team to keep their players fresh and not change too much from the past few seasons.
Grade: 25 out of 25
According to Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, Love's contract is a one-year deal worth under a million dollars.
Once again, Dave Gettleman works his magic and adds a player who is going to play well above his contract. The team is able to add a player who has been a starter in this league and provides the team depth at a key position.
Grade: 93 out of 100
The Panthers being able to bring back Kyle Love won't necessarily make national news but he is a player that makes this defense one of the best in the league. He has proven he can be effective in limited snaps, providing starters time to rest without a drop in productivity.
He also has proven to be an effective starter in this league and if the need arises could step into a starting role. It is hard to find a negative in a move like this one.