CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Carolina coach Ron Rivera said the Panthers have agreed to trade three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Jon Beason to the New York Giants.
Beason passed his physical with the Giants on Friday.
Beason was benched prior to Carolina’s 38-0 win over the Giants on Sept. 22. He broached the topic of wanting to play more with Rivera in a private meeting on Thursday.
“The trade benefits both the team and Jon,” Rivera said before the team boarded a flight to Arizona. “We’ll obviously get something out of it and it gives Jon an opportunity to get on the field right now.”
The Panthers will receive a late-round pick from the Giants in return for Beason.
Beason had microfracture surgery last October and looked slow in his first two starts. Chase Blackburn, a former Giant who signed with Carolina this offseason as an unrestricted free agent, replaced Beason in the starting lineup.
It’s expected that Beason will challenge Mark Herzlich for a starting spot at middle linebacker with the Giants once he learns the defensive scheme. The Giants rank 21st in overall defense and 28th against the run.
Beason started all 64 games in his first four seasons with the Panthers from 2007-2010 and was given a six-year, $51.5 million contract extension prior to the 2011 season.
But his career has been plagued by injuries ever since.
Beason, 28, tore his Achilles in the 2011 season opener at Arizona and was lost for the season. He returned last season but only played in four games before landing on IR again with shoulder and knee issues.
Luke Kuechly took over for Beason at middle linebacker and went on to earn AP Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, solidifying his spot as the team’s middle linebacker of the future.
Beason had microfracture surgery on his right knee in October and returned to Carolina after agreeing to a restructured contract. He started the first two games this year at weak side linebacker but struggled in pass coverage.
The Panthers benched him in Week 3, electing to go with Blackburn instead. Carolina recorded its first shutout since 2008, sacking New York quarterback Eli Manning seven times and forcing three turnovers in a dominating defensive performance.
Rivera said the plan was to stick with Blackburn as the starter.
“Jon was very professional throughout the situation,” Rivera said. “Having Chase start in front of him, he was tremendous about it. He truly was professional and I’m not just saying it. He was on board with everything.”
Rivera, who wouldn’t say if Beason requested a trade, said letting Beason go was “very tough because of what he has meant to this organization, what he’s meant to this team and what he’s meant to the linebackers.”
Rivera said he informed the rest of the players of the news before a walkthrough practice Friday.
“It’s a part of this business but it just (stinks) that it is,” Panthers receiver Steve Smith said. “I don’t think he did anything wrong. He did the best he can with the circumstances. When he was on the field he played well. When he was IR, he still pushed guys.”
Smith said he has immense respect for Beason as a person and a teammate.
“When your friend gets traded, I don’t care how neat things get done, you always think ‘Man, why did you have to do him like that?'” Smith said. “I’m not saying the organization did him good or bad, but when you see a friend leave you wish him the best, but you wish him here.”
The Panthers will still have to account for $8 million under the salary cap as part of Beason’s prorated signing bonus.
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