Buffalo Bills football is finally back! The Bills are set to take on the Carolina Panthers at New Era Field for their first preseason game of the year. As you all know, the Bills-Panthers connection runs deep. Here’s a rundown of all current Bills that are former Panthers:
Head Coach Sean McDermott
Before taking the head coaching job in Buffalo, Sean McDermott was the Panthers’ defensive coordinator from 2011-2016. In the middle of that span, McDermott led the Panthers defense to a top ten finish each season from 2012-2015. McDermott solidified the defense to the point of dominance in 2015, where it played a big role in Carolina’s 15-1 record in 2015 and Super Bowl appearance.
General Manager Brandon Beane
Beane spent his entire career in Carolina before becoming the general manager of the Bills in May 2017. From 2008-2014 he was the Panthers’ director of football operations. Then, he was promoted to the assistant GM for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Beane was also a part building the franchise that went 15-1 and made an appearance in Super Bowl 50.
Defensive Tackle Star Lotulelei
The Panthers took Lotulelei with the 14th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. He spent the last five years with the Panthers before signing with the Bills this offseason. Lotulelei was the space-eater among the front seven for the Panthers, and should fill a similar role with the Bills.
Wide Receiver Kelvin Benjamin
Benjamin has recently expressed his displeasure with the Panthers organization, directing most his vitriol at quarterback Cam Newton and his ability. Benjamin’s rookie year looked promising, as the 6’5” wideout caught 73 passes for over 1,000 yards. However, he was unable to build upon that success in 2015, as he tore his ACL in the offseason and missed the entire 2015 season. Ever since, Benjamin has struggled with a handful of short-term injuries.
Wide Receiver Kaelin Clay
Clay finds himself on the Bills for the second time. At the start of the 2017 season, Clay was traded from the Panthers to the Bills. A few weeks into the season, the Bills waived Clay and the Panthers reacquired him. He appeared in 13 total games with the Bills and Panthers, making just 6 receptions for 85 yards. Clay is better used as a return specialist.
Safety Dean Marlowe
Marlowe spent his first two seasons with the Panthers, joining the team as an undrafted free agent. With just one game played in the 2016 season, Marlowe was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury and missed the remainder of the season. In 2017, Marlowe was released by the Panthers after he was waived/injured and placed on injured reserve.