What the Andre Smith Trade Means For Panthers’ Roster – Sports Illustrated

Chess Training

It was recently announced that the Panthers traded LB Andre Smith to the Bills for a conditional 7th round draft pick in 2023. The move was ultimately a roster cut for the team, but Carolina took advantage of an opportunity to get something out of it. The Panthers will have to reduce the roster from 80 players to 53 players by September 5th at 4 p.m. EST. This means that the roster cuts will continue from here.

Other linebackers who are trying to make the 53-man roster include undrafted free agents Chris Orr and Sam Franklin.

It was noted by Schuyler Callihan that Orr has a legitimate chance at making the roster. Callihan said the following about the former Wisconsin Badger:

"Orr is a bit undersized to play middle linebacker checking in at 6-foot, 225 lbs and will likely be asked to move outside. Although, I don't see Orr strictly staying in one spot. Matt Rhule is known for his positionless approach to defense and as rock solid as Orr was at inside linebacker at Wisconsin, he will be used there some as well."

"With the lack of depth at linebacker, I could see Orr backing up someone like Brian Burns as an edge rusher. He has a knack for applying pressure in the backfield and causing havoc in the run game. Another possibility is for him to be on the other side learning and developing behind newly acquired Tahir Whitehead. With Whitehead being the more seasoned vet, expect Orr to closely follow him throughout training camp."

"Although the Panthers drafted all defensive players in the 2020 NFL Draft, they did not select a linebacker. However, they went linebacker heavy in undrafted free agency. Orr will have a really strong shot of making the 53-man roster and I graded him as having the best chance of the UDFA's to make the final roster at 65%. That percentage will likely increase the closer we get to the start of the regular season."

Sam Franklin is another linebacker who may have been impacted by the Andre Smith trade. Franklin formerly played for Temple, where Matt Rhule was the head coach from 2013 to 2016. Franklin is 6'3", 210 pounds, which makes him undersized at the position. It is entirely possible that he could also be used as a chess piece in Phil Snow's "positionless defense."

Franklin has shown that he is able to make plays on the second level of defense, which makes him valuable as a coverage linebacker. There is a good chance that he could make it to the practice squad at the very least. He will be able to develop his abilities at his own pace since there isn't any pressure for him to get playing time any time soon.

The Panthers will have to make more roster cuts within the next few days. Linebacker may not be a position group that will be targeted at this point, but we will see.

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What the Andre Smith Trade Means For Panthers' Roster - Sports Illustrated

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