The NFL regular season is winding down, but in a sport like football, teams are constantly re-evaluating their roster and bringing in new talent. Because of that, players are signed to new contracts as the year ends and even into the playoffs, at times. South Carolina football fans have seen that reality at play recently with some Gamecock alums.
About ten days ago, Carolina legend Melvin Ingram, who hadn't played all season, signed a contract with the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins had recently lost starting pass rusher Jaelan Phillips to a torn Achilles, so bringing in an experienced veteran like Ingram made sense for the playoff-bound Dolphins.
A similar story played out with another player who spent his South Carolina football career as a defensive lineman in garnet and black.
Big defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth signed a new deal with the San Francisco 49ers. Stallworth will be on his 4th team (and 5th contract) of the 2023 season. After finishing last season with the Houston Texas, he signed a new deal to stay in Houston before becoming a roster casualty. He then played with the Carolina Panthers, the Houston Texans (again), and the Tennessee Titans.
Stallworth has played in just one game this season, an October contest with the Tennessee Titans. However, players like him are in high demand in the NFL. Adding depth to the offensive and defensive fronts is critical in a sport so full of injuries, so, though the tightly-limited rosters in the league often cause linemen (on both sides of the ball) to be released, those players often find new jobs.
Stallworth will serve as a backup to fellow South Carolina Gamecock alum (and 2017 USC teammate) Javon Kinlaw. Kinlaw has regained his starting position on the interior of the 49ers' defensive line as he is healthy for the first time since his rookie year back in 2020. In his last three games, he has 3.5 sacks and four more tackles for loss, surpassing the totals for the entirety of the rest of his career.
With some injuries affecting other players in the '9ers' defensive line room, Taylor Stallworth's signing will provide a bit of an insurance policy for the Super Bowl hopefuls.