The first day of cuts are over. Dan Morgan and Mike Wahle have been given their walking papers. It’s sad to see them go but these were moves that had to be made. Morgan had played in only 59 of a possible 112 games while Wahle was due a pretty hefty amount of cash next season and was no longer an NFL spring chicken.
Most fans that I’ve talked to aren’t exactly upset about these moves because they either expected it or were hoping for it. What they’re upset about is who the Panthers didn’t cut on Monday. Which is why I’m here today to pass along a word of advice to the top brass in Carolina…tear it off like a Band-Aid. At least it won’t hurt so much that way.
The first of the moves the team needs to make isn’t something that really should take a lot of thought – they need to part ways with David Carr. Call it a failed experiment and move on. Sure, you thought he might be the guy who could backup Jake Delhomme but that obviously didn’t work out. Look at the numbers: 53.7 completion percentage, 635 yards, 3 TD’s, 5 ints. and a paultry QB rating of 58.3. Those are bad numbers under any circumstances but the worst one is this – the Panthers were 1-3 in games that Carr started.
So, what are the Panthers waiting for? Are they thinking they can trade Carr? If they’re lucky they might get a bag of Skittles for the guy. Or maybe some GM will come along and offer them the coupons from the pizza box he had delivered last night from Papa John’s. Either way, it’s not as if Carr’s value has skyrocketed because of his play last year.
Even the casual fan who may have caught only a few minutes of games last year considers Carr to be a backup at best. This ain’t complicated. Cut the dude!
Next up is a player that had started off with so much promise and looked like the real deal – DeShaun Foster. I’ll concede that Foster is a talented running back but there are two things that reduce his value to the team: He can’t stay healthy and he puts the ball on the ground too much. Sure he managed to play in every game last season but his seven (YES, SEVEN) fumbles are just inconceivable.
Making matters worse, Foster’s stats weren’t all that great either. His yards per carry dropped last season to 3.5 from 4.0 in ’06. It’s worse than that. In ’05 he average nearly 4.5. This is as plain as the nose on your face. He can’t be back if the team really wants to have a power running attack. Foster would fit in with that philosphy like a square peg in an octagonal hole.
Word on the street is that the Panthers are trying to make a deal to trade Foster and there could be takers. This, of course, is provided that there are teams looking for a capable backup running back or a stop-gap guy who can do the job until a better back is located. But if a deal can’t be reached to ship him elsewhere, the team simply has to shave Foster’s $4.75 million from the salary cap.
The final piece of advice I’ll pass along to the team (like they’re listening to me) is this – either let Mike Rucker walk so he can sign with another team or re-sign him with the understanding that he’ll be placed in a backup role.
The team may have been sending this message to Rucker when they re-signed Damione Lewis just a few days ago. But the message may not have gotten through. Be straight up with Rucker. We all appreciate the things that he’s done for the team. He is second in team history in tackles (553) and sacks (55.5). But at 33 years of age he just isn’t the same player he used to be.
This all sounds cold-blooded, I know. But the NFL is a business. I don’t know of any company who would continue to employ, and more imprtantly pay the big bucks, to someone who wasn’t necessarily capable of doing the job day in and day out. Mike, we love ya’ and we appreciate you but now is your time to step back or step off.
General Manager Marty Hurney and Coach John Fox have talked publically about having a busy offseason. Well, busy isn’t the only thing the team needs to be. They also need to be smart, aggressive and decisive. You don’t miss the playoffs two straight years after a three-year run like the Panthers had prior to that for no reason. Age is beginning to creep up on this team a bit and injuries have been a problem now for much too long.
And this offseason, if the nice guy image stays with the front office, the losing will be creeping up on this team for at least one more season too. It’s time to quit playing nice and starting doing business the NFL way and do what is best for the team. Do what you have to do and, in the process, remember to tear it off like a Band-Aid!