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 ESPN.com 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.