We are now well into the off-season, and the intrigue is palpable. Mock drafts are popping up everywhere and notable players are changing teams (either by trade or release). It’s been a while since I have written a solo piece, so I thought this was the perfect time to start a new column. Introducing, “The Backseat GM”. In this bi-weekly series, I will give my “professional” insights on various topics. (I’ve won countless Madden and fantasy championships, so I’m pretty sure I can lead an NFL front office.)
In this first installment, I will discuss one of the most notable defensive players in free agency. It’s not Patrick Peterson. No, not Richard Sherman. Not even J.J. Watt. (Ben Blakely and I already discussed him in detail.)
It’s former Carolina Panther, Kawann Short. Why? Because McDermott and Beane have a propensity to go after former Panthers. Many are asking whether the Bills should go after him. The short answer is no. However, given the aforementioned infatuation with Carolina cast-offs, I am 99.999999% sure they will sign him anyway. Here are the reasons why the Bills should not, and probably will, sign Kawann Short.
Why the Bills Should Not Sign Him
1.) Declining Production
From 2015 to 2017, Kawann Short was among the cream of the crop for defensive tackles, recording 24.5 sacks, 159 tackles (35 for loss), and 52 quarterback hits. He earned a five-year, $80.5 million contract extension from the Panthers as a result. However, in the three seasons since, Short has tallied just three sacks, 52 tackles (13 for loss), and 11 quarterback hits. While he did make the Pro Bowl in 2018, that was likely less for production and more name recognition. So what happened?
2.) Recent Injury Issues
Short played 94 consecutive games to begin his career but has played only seven games since. His injury woes began with a right calf strain late in 2018. Then, his 2019 season ended after two games when he tore his rotator cuff (right shoulder). Meanwhile, Short’s 2020 campaign was derailed by right foot and shoulder injuries (pedal foot and cartilage tear respectively). I’m not a medical expert, but it seems almost impossible for him to return to productivity after suffering multiple injuries to the same shoulder and leg/foot.
3.) Former Panthers Don’t (Usually) Pan Out
I believe it was the great William Shakespeare who once said, “all that Panthers is not gold”. (It might’ve been something else. I’m not a poetry guy.) The following table lists all the former Panthers McDermott and Beane have brought to Buffalo since 2017:
|Player Name||Year Acquired||Games Played||Stats||Still with Team (2/19/21)?|
|Mike Tolbert||2017||12||66 carries, 247 yards, 1 TD;|
14 receptions, 78 yards
|Joe Webb||2017||16||2/7, 35 yards, 1 INT;|
8 carries, 54 yards;
|Kelvin Benjamin||2017||18||39 receptions, 571 yards, 2 TDs||N|
|Kaelin Clay||2017||4||1 reception, 28 yards;|
1 carry, 0 yards;
2 returns, 2 yards
|Leonard Johnson||2017||15||53 tackles, 2 TFLs, 7 PDs, 1 FF, 1 FR||N|
|Derek Anderson||2018||2||42/70, 465 yards, 4 INTs;|
1 carry, -1 yard
|Dean Marlowe||2018||26||38 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, 2 QB hits, 2 INTs, 5 PDs, 1 FR||Y|
|Star Lotulelei||2018||32||36 tackles, 4 TFLs, 2 sacks, 3 QB hits, 1 INT, 1 PD||Y|
|Kurt Coleman||2019||14||3 tackles, 1 TFL||N|
|Bryan Cox Jr.||2020||1||1 tackle||Y|
|Andre Smith||2020||12||9 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FF||Y|
|Vernon Butler||2020||14||18 tackles, 5 TFLs, 2 QB hits, 1 PD, 1 FF||Y|
|Josh Norman||2020||9||24 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 INT, 4 PDs, 1 FF, 2 FRs||Y|
|Mario Addison||2020||15||30 tackles, 7 TFLs, 5 sacks, 8 QB hits, 4 PDs||Y|
|A.J. Klein||2020||16||75 tackles, 5 TFLs, 5 sacks, 9 QB hits, 4 PDs, 2 FFs, 1 FR||Y|
Of the 15 players listed, only three played more than one full season (16 games): Star Lotulelei, Dean Marlowe, and Kelvin Benjamin. Don’t get me wrong, I like Star and Process Protégé Dean Marlowe, but the vast majority of former Panthers flame out here.
Why the Bills Will Sign Him
1.) Former Panther
Let’s be honest, they will sign Kawann Short because he is a former Panther. Like Star and Josh Norman, his best years came in McDermott’s defense with Eric Washington as the defensive line coach. So, he will likely give (another) one of his former players a chance as a favor.
2.) Veteran Experience
Given Short’s experience in McDermott’s defense, I guess it’s theoretically possible that he could come in and immediately play in the rotation. He could also serve as a mentor for the youngsters in the DT room (i.e. Ed Oliver, Harrison Phillips, Justin Zimmer, and/or whichever rookie they draft).
3.) Cheap Price Tag
The third reason why the Bills will likely sign Short is that he doesn’t have a hot, “wild” (as one player put it) market. His injuries and declining production have made him virtually undesirable and, therefore, cheap. They could give him a one-year prove-it deal for the veteran minimum with performance-based incentives (i.e. snap percentage, stats, etc.). This way, McDermott can see if he has anything left in the tank without a major commitment.
Player stats provided by Pro Football Reference.
Financial figures provided by Spotrac.
Injury descriptions provided by Sports Injury Predictor.
What do you think Bills fans? Will the Bills sign Kawann Short? Should they sign him? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter (@zvaughn2712), or on Facebook.