Carolina’s decision to trade Jon Beason was not made this week or last.
Beason became expendable in April, when the Panthers selected A.J. Klein out of Iowa State in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL draft.
Beason is a middle linebacker. In Luke Kuechly, the Panthers had a middle linebacker. Klein, whom the Panthers were surprised was still available, plays outside linebacker, Beason’s new position.
Beason might have evolved into an effective outside linebacker. But that’s not home. What distinguished Beason were his instincts. He was selected for the Pro Bowl in 2008, ’09 and ’10 because he could anticipate, because he knew where to go and had the speed, strength and drive to get there.
At outside linebacker, Beason never called the shots. His instincts were muted.
Also, it’s evident he has not recovered from the surgeries that forced him to play only five games the two seasons before this one.
I watched Beason chase down a larger, presumably slower player at Bank of America Stadium this season. I kept waiting for the big Beason hit. Beason has always missed tackles, but he compensated with his head-turning hits. He turned the heads of fans and the players he hit.
But he never caught the big man.
A former first-round pick out of Miami, Beason is only 28. I’ve never performed surgery so I have no idea if the speed returns. If it does, the New York Giants, who traded Carolina a late-round pick for Beason, get a bargain. Beason still has to pass his physical.
Beason is a good man, somebody I enjoyed talking to and watching. He was accountable in the locker room and in interviews. He is a natural leader and has been since 2007, his rookie year.
With Chase Blackburn, who started for the New York Giants last season, able to slide into his spot, and with Klein waiting his turn, Beason was expendable.
He and outside linebacker Thomas Davis came up together and had a bond. And as bad as the Panthers sometimes were, those guys, as a tandem, offered credibility. You saw them and, when healthy, thought, this defense will be all right.
It is all right now, albeit without Beason.
Hope he passes his physical and thrives in his new uniform.