The Panthers knew they needed to find a replacement for Ryan Kalil this offseason and signing Matt Paradis fills the need in a big way for Carolina.
Ryan Kalil’s retirement left a massive hole to fill in the middle of the Panthers’ offensive line. Many NFL observers thought Carolina would take a center early in the draft, but instead, GM Marty Hurney elected to plug the hole with Matt Paradis in free agency.
The Panthers had been absolutely silent in free agency until the news of Paradis’ signing broke. Carolina retained Colin Jones and Taylor Heinecke, but the team had largely been absent from links with any other big name free agents. Paradis will go right into Kalil’s spot on the line and will be tasked with keeping Cam Newton upright in 2019.
According to Adam Schefter, Paradis will sign a three-year deal with the Panthers that will pay him $9 million annually. That will tie him with Alex Mack and Justin Britt as the sixth highest paid center in the NFL.
It’s safe to say that Paradis heading to Carolina caught quite a few media members off guard. Most had him penciled in to join the Jets sooner, rather than later.
The terms of the contract are also pretty reasonable. The fact that Mitch Morse got $11 million per season with the Bills seemed to indicate Paradis might get a similar number.
Some national lists had Paradis listed as a top-20 free agent. Center isn’t the sexiest position in the NFL, but it was a clear need for the Panthers.
It’s really hard not to like this signing for the Panthers. Kalil’s departure meant they had to find a player capable of starting at center immediately during this offseason. That made free agency the more reliable bet than the draft.
$9 million per season is a hefty chunk of change for a center, but Paradis has been consistently good throughout his NFL career. He missed time for the Broncos last season after breaking his leg, but he should make a full recovery in time for training camp. It’s easy to project Paradis giving the Panthers similar production to what Kalil gave them in the past. Maintaining that level of production at center is a clear win for Carolina.
The best aspect of the deal is that it frees the Panthers up to address other needs in the draft. Specifically, Hurney and the front office can now devote their first two picks to fill needs at offensive tackle and edge rusher. The organization needs to get those picks right, but they don’t need to worry about the center position early in the draft any longer. That improves their odds of finding the tackle and defensive end they need in the first two rounds.
Credit the Panthers for making a good move under the cover of relative darkness. Scooping up Paradis for this price is a real steal. It’s one of the best free agency moves of the offseason to date.