Carolina trading DE Kony Ealy and a third-round pick to Patriots in exchange for New England's second-round pick, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 10, 2017
If you weren't looking for the writing on the wall, you'd never see it.
Kony Ealy, the Carolina Panthers' enigmatic pass rusher, is just 25. And his MVP-like performance in Super Bowl 50 showed a worldwide audience he's capable of taking over a game.
But given three years with Eric Washington, who should eventually start getting credit for being one the NFL's best defensive line coaches, the light never went on for Ealy. The 2014 second-round couldn't kick his habit of making mistakes, and as the Panthers' pursued a reunion with Julius Peppers, there was a growing sense Ealy wasn't guaranteed a roster spot in 2017.
Instead of going through the draft and giving Ealy the spring to show a spark, general manager Dave Gettleman decided to pull the plug now. The Panthers didn't get much in return, but with a defensive end group of Peppers, Charles Johnson, Mario Addison and Wes Horton, Gettleman apparently believes moving from early in the third round to late in the second is worth more than waiting for Ealy's light to turn on.