Kurt Coleman’s short-lived run as team captain for the Carolina Panthers has come to an end.
The journeyman safety was shown the door on Monday after three years of serving as the starter in Panthers head coach Ron Rivera’s defense. While he has never been the most talented defensive back, his rise to prominence in organization was more in line with his blue collar approach to the game of football.
Rivera chose him to lead by example.
Coleman, a seventh-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, had to scratch and claw for everything he got in the league after getting bounced around by multiple other teams, including the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs.
His best season came in 2016 with the Panthers when he had 95 tackles, a sack, four interceptions, seven pass deflections and one interception returned for a touchdown. That production dipped to 76 tackles, three pass deflections and no interceptions last season.
However, the 29-year-old veteran should still find work next season as a starter or backup. Here are three teams that should have him circled on their radar.
- Minnesota Vikings
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer once called his decision to release Coleman a “mistake.” Those comments came ahead of the 2016 game between the Vikings and Panthers.
Coleman’s dependability and versatility might have meshed well playing alongside three-time Pro Bowler Harrison Smith, but an injury kept the pairing from ever coming to fruition. Zimmer wasn’t a big enough believer in Coleman’s talent to simply let him ride out the injury, either. The team cut bait and moved on swiftly.
Perhaps Zimmer would consider giving it another go in 2018. He could potentially come in and compete with strong safety Andrew Sendejo for snaps or serve as an emergency backup role at either safety spot.
- Pittsburgh Steelers
Coleman wasn’t great last season, but he still played better than Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell, who is a candidate to become a cap casualty in the offseason. He should also come at a decent price for a cap-strapped team desperately trying to re-sign Le’Veon Bell. The Steelers should definitely look to the draft to improve their maligned secondary, but Coleman could serve as a veteran bridge until the young guys are up to speed.
- Buffalo Bills
If Colt Anderson and Shamarko Thomas sign with other teams in the offseason, the Buffalo Bills will literally be down to only Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer at safety. They desperately need more depth at the position. Coleman’s experience as a starter and veteran leadership would be a welcome addition to a team that’s constantly on the rebuild.
This job wouldn’t come with as much pressure as joining a team like the Steelers, either. He’d be inserted into a rotation behind Hyde and Poyer on a team that’s only been to the playoffs once in the last 18 seasons.