Panthers Secure Special Teams Ace with New Deal

Panther's Franklin transitions from undrafted rookie to team cornerstone.

by Nouman Rasool
Panthers Secure Special Teams Ace with New Deal
© Mike Carlson/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers have reinforced their squad by securing veteran safety Sam Franklin with a fresh contract, emphasizing their commitment to building a robust special teams unit while maintaining depth in their secondary.

Franklin, who has been with the Panthers since 2020 after joining as an undrafted free agent from Temple, has grown into a key figure within the team, particularly on special teams, showcasing his versatility and work ethic.

During the 2023 NFL season, Franklin's contributions were primarily on special teams, although he also stepped up as a starter for a four-game stretch, filling in admirably amid injuries plaguing the Panthers' secondary.

His most notable moment came in a game against the Minnesota Vikings, where he dazzled fans by returning an interception for a 99-yard touchdown, a play that highlighted his potential impact on defense. While Franklin's defensive outings had their ups and downs, his initial burst onto the scene with a pick-six set high expectations.

Despite a limited number of standout plays following that game, Franklin demonstrated solid coverage skills, maintaining tight defense and allowing minimal gains on passes thrown his way. Over the span of his starting appearances, he conceded only seven receptions for 67 yards, although two of these did result in touchdowns.

Franklin's Evolutionary Path

Franklin's journey with the Panthers traces back to his college days under Matt Rhule at Temple, showcasing a long-standing connection that has now seen him evolve from a special teams mainstay to a versatile defender capable of stepping in when called upon.

His rookie season offered a glimpse of his defensive capabilities, with a notable performance against the Kansas City Chiefs, despite the team's limited use of him in defensive roles in the following seasons. Despite the fluctuations in his defensive responsibilities, Franklin's consistent excellence on special teams has been a cornerstone of his career with the Panthers.

His ability to execute on kickoffs and punts, combined with occasional flashes of brilliance on defense, underscores the value he brings to the team. As the Panthers look to the future, Franklin's new contract reaffirms their belief in his contributions and the integral role he plays within the team's dynamics.