Why Panthers had to let Charles Godfrey go

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Carolina Panthers really did defensive back Charles Godfrey a favor by letting him stay on the roster as long as they did.

Were the seven-year veteran not considered a positive influence in the locker room and just an all-around good guy, he might have been gone at the end of training camp.

But ultimately, Godfrey was judged on performance.

And his performance didn’t cut it.

That rookie Bene' Benwikere was made the starting nickel cornerback after the first game should have been a hint. The Panthers moved Godfrey from safety to corner during the offseason, believing his coverage and run-stopping skills would be a plus.

It turned into a negative, and that never was more evident than two weeks ago against Cincinnati, as it was painfully obvious Godfrey couldn’t keep up with the slot receivers.

Five times on pass plays of third-and-6 or longer, the Bengals picked up a first down on Godfrey, who started at nickel because Benwikere suffered an ankle injury the week before.

In Sunday’s 38-17 loss at Green Bay, Godfrey had a three of a team season-high 11 missed tackles.

Godfrey helped the Panthers by taking a $4 million pay cut during the offseason to avoid being cut -- his cap number was $7.1 million. But ultimately, he couldn’t help them on the field.

The Panthers need more speed at not only the nickel position, but the secondary overall. It has been a shell of the unit from a year ago. Benwikere, who is doubtful for Sunday’s game against Seattle, will provide that speed when he returns.

That the Panthers were willing to cut Godfrey and take a chance on James Dockery, who recently was re-signed after being cut at the end of training camp, pretty much said it all.