Just over a year ago, Kony Ealy was close to becoming the Super Bowl 50 MVP and looked like the next great Panthers pass rusher. Now he’s reportedly being shipped out of town in a deal that will send Ealy and a third-round pick to the Patriots for a second-round pick, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
The Panthers choose Ealy with a second-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, but he hasn’t been the productive player they hoped he would be.
At 25, though, Ealy is a player riddled with upside who has only started 15 games over the first three years of his career.
The Patriots will send their second-round pick (No. 64 overall) to the Panthers, who will send Ealy and their third-round pick (No. 72 overall) back, reports Schefter.
In other words, this looks like a pretty prototypical Bill Belichick move. “Oh, you’ve got a talented player who hasn’t lived up to his hype? Yes, I will take him off your hands.”
The Panthers spent this offseason loading up on veteran pass rushers, bringing back Julius Peppers and as re-signing Charles Johnson. Previously the Panthers added Mario Addison and Wes Horton to their stable of pass rushers.
So, while they weren’t stacked at the position, they do have plenty of depth and they are a pretty good candidate to add a pass rusher in the draft as well.
For the Patriots, they move down eight spots in the 2017 NFL Draft and get a look at a young pass rusher who could fulfill his potential with one year remaining on his rookie deal. It’s a no-brainer for a guy like Belichick, who makes his living picking up other people’s trash and turning it into treasure.
The Panthers have to look at Ealy as one of the more disappointing early draft picks of the Dave Gettleman era, although he has been impressive hitting on his first- and second-round picks since taking over in Charlotte.