The Panthers didn’t want their version of Ray Lewis or Patrick Willis hitting free agency any time soon, so the five-year $50 million contract came early for Jon Beason back in 2011.

He was a face of a newer franchise still searching for one. A steady Pro Bowler. He identified with the middle linebacker position and was now rewarded for it. He could run through a brick wall without an ounce of concern.

That same year, Beason ruptured his Achilles and the team drafted another linebacker, Luke Kuechly. A year after that, Beason went on IR with season-ending knee surgery and a torn labrum in his shoulder. And before this season, the Panthers forced Beason into a $4 million pay cut and out of position. Kuechly would patrol the middle for good after a year's worth of rumblings.

Before he was traded to the Giants on Oct. 3, he wasn’t playing at all.

“When someone wants you to move (positions), you wanted there to be a reason for it,” Beason, now 28, told The Star-Ledger this week. “Hey, you guys just paid me $50 million, I’m considered the best in the league. I’m the highest paid guy of all time and now you’re going to move me for a guy who hasn’t showed up yet? He’s still in school. That’s just somebody’s perception of my skill set.”

Following that sudden change – franchise pillar to late-round pick trade bait – Beason equates his time in Carolina to a man sticking his hand in a bucket full of water. When the hand is in the water, it leaves an unmistakable imprint. Everything flows around it. But when the hand comes back out, the holes are absorbed immediately. Water runs freely like nothing was ever there.

That’s why the move to New Jersey was a welcome one for the new centerpiece of the Giants defense, who, heading into this today’s game against the Eagles has led the team in tackles over the past two weeks.