The Panthers aren’t wasting any time replacing Fozzy Whittaker. The team have already moved to add another versatile running back to their attack.
Fozzy Whittaker’s injury suddenly left the Panthers with a significant hole to fill in their running back group. Carolina has moved quickly to give Cam Newton another weapon in the offensive backfield.
The Panthers have signed former Eagles running back Kenjon Barner to a one-year deal. He certainly won’t be expected to carry a large load for the Panthers, but his versatility should help soften the blow of losing Whittaker. The latter running back was put on IR this week after suffering a torn ACL.
Barner may impact the Panthers more in the return game than anywhere else. Christian McCaffrey was the team’s primary punt returner last season, but the team would prefer not to expose him to that danger this year. Barner averaged 8.9 yards on 27 returns for the Super Bowl Champions last season.
Don’t expect Barner to take any carries away from McCaffrey and newly signed C.J. Anderson. He only managed 16 carries last season for the Eagles. He possesses great speed, but he’s not a terribly instinctive runner. That makes it difficult for him to be productive running the ball out of conventional sets.
If Barner doesn’t establish himself as the team’s top punt returner, he may struggle to make the 53-man roster in the end. Cameron Artis-Payne and Elijah Hood both project to be better fits in Carolina’s power running game than Barner. There may not be room the for new signing if he isn’t a key member of the Panthers’ special teams.
Even so, it’s a smart move by the team to snap Barner up before another team beat them to the bunch. He met with the Bills last week and was still continuing to draw significant interest from multiple teams. If the Panthers had waited a few more days they likely would have missed out on Barner’s services.