The Panthers have taken fliers on veterans who may or may not be over the hill before.
And the latest version could end up playing a big role this weekend.
They needed a body at safety with starter Kurt Coleman out for a month with a knee injury, so they signed former Saints free agent bust Jairus Byrd. And Byrd could end up starting sooner rather than later, since the Panthers don’t have many other options.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera compared it to the acquisition of Jared Allen two years ago during their Super Bowl run, after defensive end Charles Johnson was injured.
“That’s a great comparison because that is what we did talk about, ‘Hey, we’ve got an opportunity here to pick up a guy that’s been in systems and understands systems,” Rivera said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “The other bonus we get out of this, too, is he’s been in this division. So he knows Atlanta. He knows New Orleans. He knows Tampa Bay, as well.”
Byrd’s turning 31 tomorrow, and there’s no guarantee he’s going to hold up after years of knee problems in New Orleans.
“Any time you step out on the field or are playing this game, I always have something to prove. That’s just how I’m wired,” Byrd said. “Injuries are part of this game and unfortunately there’s not much you can do about that. Now it’s about taking care of my body and just making sure I’m available and doing what I need to do.”
The Panthers need him until Coleman returns, and his signing’s also a signal of the short-term nature of the roster they assembled this year.