The Carolina Panthers traded linebacker Jon Beason to the New York Giants on Friday, according to multiple sources.
The Panthers will reportedly receive a late-round draft in exchange for the three-time Pro Bowler, whose career has been derailed by injuries over the last few seasons.
For Beason, the writing was on the wall when the team selected Luke Kuechly with the ninth-overall pick in the 2012 draft. The seventh-year pro lost his job as starting middle linebacker to Kuechly, who led the NFL in tackles and won AP Defensive Rookie of the Year last season.
Beason's plight is a reminder of the toll injuries can take on football players.
A first-round pick of Carolina in 2007, the 6-foot-0, 235-pound former Miami Hurricane became the anchor and unequivocal leader of the defense as a rookie.
A superb athlete and sure-handed tackler with a nonstop motor, Beason became the first rookie in franchise history to lead the team tackles. At the time, his first four NFL seasons yielded the top four single-season tackle totals in Panthers history.
Then – after 65 consecutive starts from 2007-2010 – the injury bug struck Beason.
He was forced to miss the entire 2011 season after rupturing his Achilles tendon against Arizona in the opening game.
Last season, Beason was placed on injured reserve with nagging injuries after just four games. Soon thereafter, he underwent surgery to repair cartilage damage in his right knee and a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
When the 28-year-old took the field against the Seahawks in Week 1, it was clear he wasn't the same player who made three consecutive Pro Bowls from 2008-2010.
After signing a six-year, $51.5 million contract extension – including a $20 million signing bonus – in the summer of 2011, Beason agreed to a $4.25 million pay cut this season. Although the Panthers can't avoid taking the $8 million salary cap hit as part of his amortized signing bonus in 2014, general manager Dave Gettleman had to get something in return for the hobbled linebacker.
In addition to receiving the Giants' draft pick, the trade saves the team approximately $2.5 million in salary cap room next season.
Ironically, first-year Panther Chase Blackburn – an ex-Giant – will replace Beason in the starting lineup. Blackburn spent eight seasons in New York before signing with Carolina as a free agent in March.
“It’s a part of this business, but it just sucks that it is,” Smith told the Charlotte Observer. “I don’t really think he did anything wrong. He did the best he can with the circumstances.”
On behalf of Carolina fans everywhere, Panthers 101 would like to thank No. 52 for all the memories and wish him the best of luck as a New York Giant.
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