- David Newton, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The biggest news on the third day of the NFL draft for the Carolina Panthers had little to do with what players were selected.
It had everything to do with veteran Charles Godfrey.
In talking about the decision to draft North Carolina safety Tre Boston in the fourth round, general manager Dave Gettleman revealed that Godfrey has been moved from free safety to cornerback.
That explains better why the Panthers were willing to let starting cornerback Captain Munnerlyn sign with the Minnesota Vikings in free agency and why they didn't use one of their top three draft picks on a corner.
They felt in Godfrey they have a potential starter that has more value at cornerback than anybody they could have selected in the second or third rounds. He has the potential to be better than Munnerlyn.
As Gettleman reminded, Godfrey (5-11, 210) is "long, strong and can keep speed.''
Godfrey also is no stranger to cornerback. He started 25 of 28 games there at Iowa when the Panthers picked him in the third round of the 2008 draft.
Then-Carolina coach John Fox plugged Godfrey in immediately at free safety, where he started all 16 games as a rookie. Godfrey was so good that by 2011 the Panthers signed him to a six-year, $28.7 million extension with $12.4 million guaranteed.
Then he suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the second game last season. Then his $7.1 million salary cap number for 2014 became an issue for a team needing to reduce the cap. Then the Panthers signed Atlanta safety Thomas DeCoud.
That left Godfrey's future at Carolina in doubt. But the Panthers didn't want to lose his leadership in the locker room and they love his potential to become a starter as an every down cornerback as well as a nickel back.
So Gettleman met with Godfrey and his agent and renegotiated his deal to reduce the salary cap hit this season to $3,062,500. The 2015 cap hit was left at $7.1, and whether that has to be dealt with after the season probably depends on how well Godfrey plays.
But for now the Panthers may have a steal at cornerback with a player that was on the roster.
"That's why we made the move,'' coach Ron Rivera said.
If it works, the Panthers may have upgraded a defense that ranked second in the league last season with the additions of DeCoud, veteran strong safety Roman Harper and second-round draft pick Kony Ealy, a pass rushing defensive end out of Missouri.
And the move of Godfrey to cornerback will be a big part of that.