Gary VanDyke goes through the Carolina Panthers depth chart to determine which safety could have the best chance of replacing Kurt Coleman who left Carolina for the New Orleans Saints and could produce IDP fantasy football points.
The Panther Safety IDP Odds
The Carolina Panthers have an interesting situation going on currently in what should still be considered a wide-open competition for the starting safety position opposite of Mike Adams with the first unit. One that probably won’t be fully resolved unit the pads come on later this summer and into the preseason.
They currently have three main players vying to replace the now Saints Kurt Coleman who was a stand out IDP play for the most part the last few seasons he was a Panther. Now with OTAs and minicamp over we will go a little off the rail from our normal approach in locating potential IDP payers and examine the likely outcome considering the current main three competing against each other. As we do we will label them via the status of labels we commonly use for those under the radar players which possibly will assist us on how we can approach and up our odds of landing the winner.
Which hopefully will give us a scenario that didn’t actually cost our team rosters a major investment to get the job done. After all, this is the “edge” for gaining assets to build off of beyond the basic known player trades, draft picks, or spending large cap ($) if your league utilizes it. Then in the conclusion, we will attempt to play this out to our advantage by focusing on what player(s) to target now for the full “edge” effect. First off we will touch base on the returning player from 2017 we should assume will be with the first unit as one of the two starting safeties in 2018.
The Solid Veteran
Mike Adams is a 37-year-old veteran entering his 15th season. He is coming off a 2017 season that was remarkably impressive for a safety his age as well. He really has never reached the top tier 1 level for us in his IDP career but has remained relevant enough over the years. He has had stretches that it’s been a benefit to own him as depth for spot starts or even for the tail end of starting lineups needing multiple defensive backs.
While at a glance at his career stats on @MyFanatsyLeague.com (My preferred play), his best run for IDP production actually comes in the latter half of his career from about 2011 to the present. In that span, he was with the Browns, Broncos, Colts and lastly the Panthers in 2017. In that timeframe, he registered 518 combined tackles with an average of 74 per season and an additional 97 playmaker plays such as interceptions, forced fumbles, etc. A real impressive note is that in that period of time he played in 108 of a possible 112 games and overall keeping him in the upper tier 3 to lower tier 2 range on average in terms of IDP production.
This consistency may have been the deciding factor in the Panthers cutting Kurt Coleman (30 years old) unexpectedly to save roughly $2.65 million over Adams at his base salary of $1.5 million in 2018. I personally find the decision to cut Coleman after he had steller tier 1 seasons (if we are talking IDP production) in 2015 and 2016 odd. But likely a cheaper out now taking a dead money cap hit by the team compared what Coleman’s contract may have cost them in 2019.
I do not have the complete info in front of me to examine so this is an assumption on my part. It does seem to boil down to the Panthers wanting to move on and making some future cap room this season versus just letting Adams who is a free agent next offseason and will be 38 years old go instead. Only the Panthers front office really knows why when it all boils down to it. So why bring all this cap, stats, and scenario up then? The answer is that by the conclusion of this article this info should possibly come into play. Either that or I’ve wasted about two minutes of your life. To me, it’s part of the process whether I state it out loud or just know the backstory. What can I say, I go with my flow without question.
So in the end, Mike Adams offers solid veteran presence with the capability to produce for the Panthers on the field for a reasonable price in 2018 and likely for our IDP purposes as well. That was simple enough and worth our time, right?
The Veteran Sleeper
It’s funny to call this player a “veteran sleeper” when it seems just a couple seasons ago the 29-year-old Da’Norris Searcy was not sleeping so much. When in actuality he is now an eight-year veteran drafted by the Bills in 2011 in the fourth round and has been in and out of our radar screens as a potential and viable IDP play a few times. After finally having a couple good producing seasons in his third (2013) and fourth (2014) year, he hit the open market and reportedly was “signed away” by the Titans from the Bills for a four year, $24 million dollar deal.
He was then released by the Titans in March of 2017 after a two-year mediocre stint and before the final year of his contract. This was after he was forced to agree to a decent size pay cut to remain with the Titans in 2017 from a $5.6 to $3.4 million dollar deal on that season. Interesting that at the same time, he had to also agree to take a cut in what would have been the final year of his contract in 2018 from $6.1 to a $3.8 million. Neither mention converting cash to bonus as the Titans shuffled paperwork for bookkeeping purposes. He just had to take the cut to stay with the team which only last one of the two seasons in the end.
Looking back on Searcy’s timeline by headline and reports can be an interesting read, as well, over his career. Most can be seen as from one extreme to the other in his performance, how he fits in schemes, to his overall play on the field. A possible indication of the “hype train” derailing on many occasions. Not to say this has anything to do with Searcy as much as how some players can and will ride that train based on what ticket the media sold him. We have time here to take a look at a few examples I’m referring to. These can be interesting reads when flashing back and in the process of our follow through of determining his outlook, but not exactly a science. These are from the same source, but different resources.
So he is or isn’t physical?
- April 2011: Bills selected North Carolina S Da’Norris Searcy with the No. 100 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Considered solid in coverage, Searcy is expected to have trouble stopping the run in the NFL, as he shied away from contact in college. Source: Rotoworld
- July 2011: Bills DBs coach George Catavolos envisions fourth-round pick Da’Norris Searcy as an in-the-box strong safety. “I see a young man that’s physical,” said Catavolos. “He’s 220 pounds, a good tackler, plays well in the box.” Source: buffalobills.com
So he is or he isn’t starter material?
- April 2013: The Buffalo News says Da’Norris Searcy has a “great shot” to start at strong safety this season. Searcy began to eat into George Wilson‘s playing time last year thanks to his physicality. Source: Buffalo News
- August 2013: WGR 550 Buffalo wonders if Bills S Da’Norris Searcy is on the roster bubble. Beat writer Joe Buscaglia named Searcy his runner-up for the “Least Valuable Player” in training camp. The third-year safety was considered the favorite for the starting strong safety job this offseason, but he’s been bypassed by converted corner Aaron Williams. Source: WGR 550 Buffalo
Just interesting in the spirit of competition. Duke William! Really?
- June 2014: Bills SS Da’Norris Searcy got all of the first-team reps at this week’s minicamp. The Bills are moving Aaron Williams to free safety, with Searcy and Duke Williams competing on the strong side.
From “paid” to released early.
- March 2015: Titans signed SS Da’Norris Searcy to a four-year, $24 million contract. He’ll get $10.5 million guaranteed, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Still only 26 years old, Searcy is a rare quality signing by Titans GM Ruston Webster as a potentially ascending player coming off a strong season in Buffalo. Source: Ian Rapoport on Twitter
- April 2017: Titans SS Da’Norris Searcy has agreed to cut his 2017 salary from $5.625 million to $3.4 million. Searcy has also agreed to slash his 2018 salary from $6.125 million to $3.8 million. Source: Field Yates on Twitter
- March 2018: Titans released S Da’Norris Searcy. Source: Ian Rapoport on Twitter
On March 23rd he signed with the Panthers at the following agreement according to spotrac.com:
Da’Norris Searcy signed a 2 year, $5,700,000 contract with the Carolina Panthers, including a $1,300,000 signing bonus, $1,300,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $2,850,000. In 2018, Searcy will earn a base salary of $1,000,000, a signing bonus of $1,300,000, a roster bonus of $400,000 and a workout bonus of $100,000, while carrying a cap hit of $2,150,000 and a dead cap value of $1,300,000.
And finally, we have the latest and very recent headline.
- June 16th: Panthers SS Da’Norris Searcy is expected to start opposite Mike Adams. Searcy was cut from Tennessee after losing his starting job to Kevin Byard last year but was still good against the run.
Just how viable is this report and are we to go on this possibly being the case when we conclude our final scenario? While he did just grade into the average range per PFF in 2017, let’s keep in mind that it wasn’t as the preferred starter for the Titans as the ran with Kevin Byrd and Johnathan Cyprien. And as the listed third safety and with Cyprien missing six full contest while Searcy missed none, Searcy came in sixth in snap counts for the Titans in 2017 among the team’s DBs.
Leaving huge room for major errors in his grade. This includes the fact of the six games he started in place of Cyprien where he received an average of only 65.8% of the snaps in that span. A slight indication that they still subbed him out for certain situations. This can leave us wondering why and if he actually is a well-rounded safety in general.
Another thing to examine here will be his total career stats.
As appealing as he was in 2013, he was a low tier 2 DB for our IDP purposes if we go with a core scoring stat of combined tackles, the trusting factor of IDP in most fantasy leagues. And as for his “playmaking stats” that season, those are also maxed out at a tier 2 level. That season he ended as the 52nd ranked DB for year-end combined tackles overall in DBs. And in a notorious struggling offense, the Bills have graciously been fielding for our IDP purposes, his follow up season wasn’t actually a step forward. By this we mean he did not build off the 2013 season and take another step. It’s just another factor in the process to note.
The Third Round Sleeping Rookie
Rashaan Gaulden being taken by the Panthers in the third round is intriguing as anything as we do a shorter “take” on him. Pegged as the best player for the defense his senior year out of Tennessee, Gaulden is converting from a nickel back to a safety for the Panthers. Not only as a big body DB but likely due to his 4.6 forty time. His prior history in college and his skillset along with physical prowess suggest he has more potential as a strong safety with good coverage skills but not limited to the position. But there are OTA and minicamp reports of him also being suited as a free safety as well.
Likely due to his instincts in coverage than overall speed to cover the deep field. At 23 years of age, it has been stated that the weight room would still benefit him by getting over the 200 lbs mark to enable a higher potential. It is also a positive that he can work thru traffic and shed blocks at a high level. He has also been directly behind Adams and Searcy with the second unit and received time with the starters as well in the minicamp. While he was reportedly “knocking off the rust” in OTAs and ended by making a handful of plays after he did.
In general, the feeling here is that he has the establish skillset with room to grow in body mass. We should consider this a positive, trainers can drive a player to build up mass, but a positive skillset as a rookie holds more value as he doesn’t need to be taught as much as he needs to be refined. And as a third-round selection and knowing the Panthers passed over a few more natural safeties in the rookie class we need to give Gaulden more than just a passing glance. With the OTAs and minicamps over and this span of time before summer camp starts if Gaulden applies himself on his own time he will be ready to compete soon enough for us to consider a spot for him the first sign we see he is.
A Couple Of Veteran Deep Fliers
We will go ahead here and throw these two out as “blips” on the radar.
Colin Jones is a 30-year-old longtime backup with good special team skills. He has had some spot starts but unlikely to compete at a level that warrants any immediate action at this time.
Demetrious Cox is heading into his second season after being an intriguing undrafted prospect out of Michigan State last year. Known as a solid but average player he did have some momentum last year but was completely derailed by an injury. We only really mention him to cover the bases in general. What was that momentum reported last season and the fact he didn’t embarrass himself in Week 4 against the Patriots while replacing Kurt Coleman when he went down with an injury in that contest, just barely noteworthy here. But overall we have an incomplete “take” on him even with that info because that was also the game that Cox ended up going out with injury also that derailed his efforts.
How would you lay your odds out on who to invest in for the best chance and result at the lowest cost?
My Odds Are Made, And In Conclusion.
- Mike Adams will be the odds on safety to be one of the two starting safeties and produce to about the same level as last year as a low DB2 to a solid DB2 tier. According to the current (MFL) MyFanatsyLeague.com ADPs, he is going undrafted in full redrafts. Likely suited best as a depth player for our lineups unless needing to start a DB3 or DB4 each week. The likely outcome will be we see him at the strong safety position if Searcy wins a starting role. If we see Gaulden win the role then it is possible we see Adams at Free Safety. Either position with the longtime veteran holds the same value for our IDP purposes.
- Da’Norris Searcy may be the favorite at this time for the other safety role, but not all that encouraging just because he reportedly changed his lifestyle and focus on health. The odds this will vault him into much more than what he has offered before isn’t likely. Based on his past skill set as the replaceable talent we should not let the OTA and minicamp reports jack up his odds. Afterall, the pads have not come on and the OTAs and minicamps are used by coaching staffs to break players in and also to help evaluate. Nothing is ever a lock when a situation like this is occurring. At this time we should not invest to a point that warrants 50/50 odds. If he is sitting on the waiver wire and could be had on the cheap side as a possible depth player then that’s our best case scenario. He just doesn’t have the track record to go deep on.
- Rashaan Gaulden is and happens to be my target at what should be an affordable investment with the most upside. I say it that way because I feel fortunate enough that he recently went undrafted in my 32 team flagship league rookie draft I’m a part of. My cost to acquire him was a minimum bid in the auction as I kept my fingers crossed no one would take serious note of my bid. According to the ADPs in full redrafts as well as a rookie only drafts he was currently going undrafted. He’ll likely recieve ever oppurtunity to compete as a third round pick and the reports of Searcy having good OTAs and minicamps just don’t come in play hard enough knowing his history. With Gaulden’s name not yet hitting mainstream fantasy football airwaves as Searcy’s has this is the more primed player for odds of making a low investment with what actually could turn into a productive IDP play.
- We will keep our eye on Jones and Cox. But honestly, the odds are stacked against them as well us that even if they would happen to win a starting role that they would be worth considering. we would have to expect that talent wise they would not reach the tier 2 level. There would need to be many moving parts including a total break down of the Panthers offense for a chance of production by default. The odds of this happening are too great to calculate.
Thank you again for reading and always remember to feel free to locate me on Twitter @HBogart27 or by email at gmtvandyke.com with the title of The IDP Tipster. I’m always more than happy to address follow up questions or talk anything IDP.