Colin Cole

Panthers Cut Colin Cole, Sign Ryan Delaire

The Panthers continue to make changes on their defensive line, adding another pass rusher and dropping a veteran defensive tackle to do so. According to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer (via Twitter), Carolina has signed defensive end Ryan Delaire from Washington’s practice squad, releasing Colin Cole to create room on the 53-man roster.

Delaire initially signed with the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent out of Towson this spring, and the $15K signing bonus he received from Tampa Bay was one of the largest for any UDFA. However, he didn’t earn a spot on the club’s regular season roster, and landed on Washington’s taxi squad shortly after being cut by the Bucs. He’ll join a Panthers squad that will be without top pass rusher Charles Johnson for at least the next eight weeks, as he recovers from a hamstring injury.

Cole, meanwhile, has been a key player for the Panthers since 2013, starting 26 of the 31 regular season games he played for the team during his first two seasons with the team. He has seen his part-time role reduced even further early in 2015 though, with Kawann Short, Dwan Edwards, and Kyle Love seeing most of the playing time at defensive tackle. Cole played just 49 defensive snaps during the first three weeks.

As David Newton of points out, the Panthers’ decision to release Cole “speaks volumes” about how the team feels about Love, as well as highlighting Carolina’s need at defensive end. Delaire is the second defensive end added to the roster this week, joining Jared Allen, who was acquired in a trade with the Bears.

Cole will immediately become a free agent without having to pass through waivers, so he’ll be free to join any team. His one-year, minimum salary benefit contract with Carolina included a modest $80K signing bonus, so the Panthers won’t carry much dead money on their cap after parting ways with him.

Panthers Re-Sign Colin Cole

The Panthers have reached an agreement with free-agent-to-be Colin Cole, keeping the veteran defensive tackle off the open market, reports John Clayton of (Twitter link via David Newton). According to Clayton, Cole is signing a one-year, $1.05MM contract to remain in Carolina.

Cole, who has been in the league since joining the Packers in 2004, will turn 35 this summer, but was still a regular contributor for the Panthers last season. In 16 games (10 starts), the Iowa product recorded 32 tackles and recovered a fumble.

For a player with Cole’s experience, the minimum salary for 2015 is $970K. The maximum signing bonus for a minimum salary benefit deal is $80K, for a total of $1.05MM. Because it’s a minimum salary benefit contract, the Panthers’ cap hit for Cole will be just $665K — the amount of a minimum salary for a two-year veteran ($585K), plus the $80K bonus.

Panthers Sign Colin Cole To One-Year Deal

THURSDAY, 9:37am: Cole’s one-year contract with the Panthers, which is now official, has a total base value of $1.125MM, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, who breaks down the specifics via Twitter.

TUESDAY, 4:23pm: The Panthers have agreed to terms with Colin Cole, and will bring the veteran defensive tackle back to Carolina on a one-year deal, reports Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer (via Twitter).

A Toronto native, the 33-year-old Cole was a starter for the Seahawks in 2009 and 2010 before being out of the NFL for two years due in part to ankle problems. Cole returned to the field in 2013 for the Panthers, starting 13 games for the team and appearing in 335 defensive snaps.

Although he ranked in the bottom 10 qualified defensive tackles according to Pro Football Focus’ grades (subscription required), Cole will likely be relied upon as a depth piece on Carolina’s line, and figures to play a part-time role for the club once again in 2014.