Panthers send 5th-rounder to Chiefs for DT Tyler

The Carolina Panthers added depth at their weakest position Monday, sending a 2010 fifth-round draft pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for defensive tackle Tank Tyler.

The deal, coming a day before the NFL trade deadline, gives the Panthers more options on the defensive line after the season-ending injury to Maake Kemoeatu in training camp.

It’s a homecoming for the 6-foot-2, 306-pound Tyler, who grew up in Fayetteville, N.C., and played at North Carolina State. He was taken by the Chiefs in the third round of the 2007 draft and started all 16 games last season.

But Tyler started only two of six games this season – he was replaced by Ron Edwards – and had 22 tackles. Tyler is expected to give Carolina options at nose tackle alongside 35-year-old Hollis Thomas, who was signed after Week 3 when he was released by St. Louis.

“Tank is a young defensive tackle who we think will fit in well with us,” said general manager Marty Hurney, who scouted Tyler in the preseason. “He has good size and athletic ability.”

The trade also leaves Carolina (2-3) without yet another draft pick next spring. San Francisco owns its first-round choice after a draft-day deal in April, and the Panthers sent a sixth-round choice to Cleveland in exchange for Louis Leonard before the start of the season.

“The players we got with those picks are young players,” Hurney said. “We feel like they are guys who can hopefully fit in and are here for a while.”

Leonard was expected to fill in for Kemoeatu, who ruptured his Achilles’ tendon on the first practice of training camp But Leonard broke his ankle in Week 2 and was lost for the season.

The Panthers have tried numerous other players at tackle without much success until Thomas’ arrival. The Panthers‘ two-game winning streak coincides with Thomas’ move into the starting lineup, but the team had little depth behind him.

Hurney said Tyler could play both defensive tackle positions in Carolina’s 4-3 defense.

The Panthers did not immediately announce a roster move to make room for Tyler.