Panthers release DT Lewis

On the surface, it seems a bit surprising the Carolina Panthers have cut Damione Lewis, who has been their best defensive tackle in recent years.

LewisLewisBut not when you figure in the economic side. Lewis was scheduled to earn more than $5 million in 2010. That’s a classic case of production and cost not matching up. Lewis was an ordinary defensive tackle at best and actually ended up playing far more than the Panthers ever really expected him to. They initially thought he could factor into the rotation and be used mainly as a pass rusher.

Due to injuries and other issues, Lewis became more of an every-down defensive tackle. He never was much of a run stuffer and the Panthers do have Maake Kemoeatu coming back from an injury that forced him to miss all of last season. Aside from that, they only have several journeymen defensive tackles and they also may be looking for help at defensive end as Julius Peppers exits as a free agent.

Looks like coach John Fox, who built this team around his defensive line, will be starting from scratch. Although the Panthers aren’t expected to be major players in free agency, look for them to at least consider some mid-level defensive linemen because they won’t be able to get everything they need in the draft.