97 Days to Kickoff: Mario Addison

Mario Addison

The Carolina Panthers had one of the wildest offseasons of any team, trading for a new quarterback while having one of the best drafts in the entire NFL. This team should be improved from a season ago, but we’ve still got quite a bit of time to wait before actually seeing the on-field product. As of this posting, the Carolina Panthers are 97 days away from kicking off their season against the New York Jets. To commemorate the occasion, we here at Last Word on Sports are counting down the days by highlighting the best player in franchise history for each respective jersey number. Today, we’ll focus on old friend Mario Addison.

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Mario Addison: 97 Days to Carolina Panthers Kickoff

Life Before the Panthers

Mario Addison makes his living as a defensive end, but the only reason he even transitioned to that position in the first place is because of injury. Back in high school, Addison spent most of his time playing running back before transitioning to quarterback. However, he suffered a hand injury, making it impossible for him to grip and throw a football. He could still play, so coaches moved him to defensive end. He played well in the new position, but the late change didn’t give programs enough time to see just how good he could be.

Not wanting to give up on his dream, Addison started his career at Northeast Community College. After two seasons, he received an offer to go to Troy University, where he eventually broke out as a Senior. Appearing in every game, Addison recorded 10.5 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles in his final year of eligibility.

While this impressive campaign put him on the NFL radar, it still wasn’t enough to hear his name called in the 2011 NFL Draft. It was, however, enough for him to earn a spot as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears. After spending the next two seasons bouncing around with the Bears, Colts, and Redskins, Addison finally found a home with the Carolina Panthers.

Mario Addison With the Carolina Panthers

Signed late in the 2012 season, the Panthers snatched Addison right off of Washington’s practice squad. While the Troy product primarily played special teams for the remainder of the season, he earned a spot as a rotational defensive end in 2013. The Panthers were impressed with his work in a limited role and signed him to a two-year contract extension.

That decision immediately paid dividends, as Addison responded with the best season of his young career. Appearing in all 16 games, Addison finished with 6.5 sacks and 23 tackles as a pass-rushing specialist. He remained in that role in 2015, recording six sacks and 23 tackles while being a key part of one of the NFL’s best defenses. Once again, Addison’s impressive play earned him another contract extension.

Addison proved to be worth the investment, as he continued to improve his level of play. From 2016 to 2019, the former undrafted free agent recorded 39 sacks (9.8 per season), 89 tackles, and eight forced fumbles. This was easily the best four-year stretch of his career, but it ended up being the final stretch of his Carolina Panthers journey. In total, Addison recorded 60 sacks, 252 tackles, and 11 forced fumbles during his eight years in Carolina.

Post-Panthers Life

As is the case with seemingly everyone that even had a cup of coffee in Carolina, Mario Addison made his way over to Sean McDermott’s Buffalo Bills. Signing a three-year contract in free agency, Addison helped Buffalo make it all the way to the AFC Championship Game. He currently has two more years on what should be a very good Buffalo Bills team.

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images


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