John Ellis / @1PantherPlace
Down to the wire.
In the case of Panthers left tackle Taylor Moton, the general consensus among analysts and reporters, including your humble correspondent: time was ticking, and the likelihood of any long-term extension before Thursday’s deadline felt remote.
Life happens fast in the NFL.
By mid-afternoon on Thursday, just short of the league’s official deadline for extending franchise players to long-term deals, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the details: Carolina and their rising star on the right side had agreed to a four-year extension (essentially a 5-year deal) worth $72 million. It appears that a $43 million guaranteed bonus is due at signing, a report that was confirmed by multiple outlets throughout the afternoon.
Moton, a 2nd round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, has been widely considered by league insiders and scouts as one of the best players at his position. On tape, he is fluid and fundamentally sound, and demonstrates a high level of competitive fire through the whistle.
As a rookie, former Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula utilized Moton’s rare combination of power and balance in key situations, as the Western Michigan product became a bit of a go-to guy in Carolina’s 6 OL power sets.
As seen below, as the third tackle on the far right side of the line, #72 was the catalyst on this Jonathan Stewart touchdown.
Moton opened the 2018 season at left tackle in Carolina’s season opener against Dallas. The following week, the natural-fit of a right tackle made the permanent switch back to his comfort zone. 668 pass block reps later, Moton finished his second season allowing a pair of quarterback sacks.
Over the last two seasons, Moton has molded into one of the best right tackles in the league, allowing just five sacks in 1300+ pass blocking reps.
The Panthers still have questions across the line, namely, the latest variety of mystery candidates to protect yet another Carolina QB’s blind side.
Brady Christensen, the third-rounder drafted from BYU, spent some time working at right tackle during OTA. However, the expectation is he will spend most of his time competing for a starting job at left tackle during training camp.
Other contenders include Trent Scott, a journeyman who played limited snaps last year, and former first-round pick Cam Erving, the latest in a long line of Matt Rhule revival projects.
Free agents pickup Pat Elflein will compete for the left guard job, while veterans John Miller and Dennis Daley will likely battle for reps at right guard. Miller, who fared well at times in 2020, could be a formidable sidekick for Moton, as they have experience working together.
Panthers Training Camp opens on July 28, at which point, fans and those covering the event will begin to see these position battles take shape. For now, Panthers fans can breathe a sigh of relief that one of the best right tackles in the league is theirs until 2025.