In our examination of the Carolina Panthers roster earlier today, we posited that Russell Shepard may be the odd man out in the Carolina Panthers wide receiver room after they added Torrey Smith, Jarius Wright and DJ Moore in the offseason; while Shepard was a locker room leader and special teams ace, he didn’t appear to have the stats to support either his three year, $10m contract signed last offseason or his $2.1m salary cap hit in 2018 – Shepard caught 17 passes for 202 yards and a score last season, but only had 149 yards total the final 15 games of the season.
That time appears to have come, as the Panthers reportedly asked the sixth-year wide receiver out of LSU to take a pay cut – when Shepard declined, he asked for his release from the team after only one season, sources say. Shepard’s release will bring the Panthers roster to 90 and will clear $2.1m from the 2018 salary cap.
The roster gained some additions today as well, with the team signing four invited tryout players from this weekend’s rookie mini-camp; the Panthers have added WR Bug Howard, the 6’4 wideout who starred at the University of North Carolina with 146 catches for 2,048 yards and 18 touchdowns, eight of which came during his senior season. The Panthers have also added C Kyle Friend, who spent the last two seasons on the Jets and Steelers’ practice squads over the past two seasons after starting all four seasons at Temple University; 6’6, 315 pound lineman Quinterrius Eatmon has also been added – Eatmon was listed as a guard, but Rivera referred to him as a tackle after the third session when going over players that caught his eye.
Defensive end Karter Schult has also been added to the roster to shore up the defensive line depth heading into camp; Schult starred at the University of Northern Iowa, finishing as their all-time leader in career tackles for loss (56.0) and was second all-time in sacks (35.5) – he also earned the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defender in the Football Championship Subdivision in 2016 when he led the nation in sacks.
In addition to the looming release of Shepard, the Panthers have granted a release to cornerback Zack Sanchez, who was drafted in the fifth round of the 2016 draft – the waiver comes with an injury designation; Sanchez was released after the team’s final 2017 preseason game, only to return to the practice squad ahead of the Panthers’ Week 7 matchup with the Chicago Bears. With Sanchez’ release, only Vernon Butler and James Bradberry remain on the roster from the 2016 draft class only two seasons removed from the draft – Daryl Worley was traded earlier in the offseason and Beau Sandland spent the early part of 2016 on the practice squad before moving onto Green Bay.
God forever got me … I ain’t stressin
— Zack Sanchez (@ZSanchez15) May 14, 2018
The Panthers roster now sits at 90, with the Panthers allowed to have 91 – the exemption given to foreign player Efe Obada allows them an extra slot.