A day after he was cut by the 49ers, offensive tackle Jonathan Martin will be heading to a new team rather than reaching the free agent market. According to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer (via Twitter), the Panthers have claimed Martin off waivers from San Francisco.
Martin, who was at the center of the Dolphins’ bullying scandal in 2013, reportedly receiving verbal abuse from Richie Incognito and others, was sent to the 49ers in a trade last March. Although he started nine games last season at right tackle for San Francisco, Martin wasn’t particularly effective, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). PFF graded Martin as a below-average run blocker and pass blocker, placing him 60th out of 84 qualified offensive tackles.
With Jim Harbaugh, who coached Martin at Stanford, no longer in the picture for the Niners, the team decided to move on from the young tackle as well. As he enters the final year of his rookie contract, Martin is set to earn $1.042MM for the 2015 season. The Panthers will take on that salary by claiming him, though it’s not guaranteed.
The offensive line was an area of concern for the Panthers heading into the offseason after the team shuffled a number of players in and out of the lineup last year, receiving underwhelming production from starting left tackle Byron Bell. Free agent signee Michael Oher is currently penciled in as Carolina’s left tackle for 2015, so Martin could compete for playing time on the right side, or serve as a swing tackle for the team. The Panthers will likely add a lineman or two in the draft as well.