Before any fans go jumping off a bridge or calling up the Carolina Panthers‘ front offices to complain that they aren’t getting involved in free agency, there is a little explaining to do as to why they are so quiet.
Honestly, they’re going to remain silent. At least for a while.
First, let’s look at these recent quotes from general manager Marty Hurney.
“You look at our situation and we’ve got our starters back from last year,” said Hurney. “We’ve got a good part of our nucleus back. We’ve got a good young core that’s either (in) or heading into second contracts.
“I think it’s a good situation to be in.”
“Every year this time of year, you have difficult decisions to make,” said Hurney.
This sounds like a team with a plan – one they’re sticking with. So far, it’s worked fairly well too.
Consider that Albert Haynesworth just signed a ridiculous contract with the always-generous Washington Redskins for 7 years and $100 million. There’s no way the Panthers can compete with that.
They aren’t far enough under the cap despite recent savings in restructuring deals and releasing players. And even if they were, this team doesn’t throw money around like that in free agency. You have to let the market cool off a whole lot if you don’t have much to spend in order to make any moves with money like that being thrown around.
Next, consider that the team went 12-4 last year and won the NFC South title. They have the nucleus of that team back. Plus, they got the benefit of a new coach and a major player purge in Tampa Bay. No more Derrick Brooks and no more Jon Gruden who know our Panthers well. That bodes well against their biggest division rival.
Finally, and perhaps the biggest reason to not dive into the deep end of the free agency pool, is Julius Peppers. That’s a $16-17 million contract for one season waiting for him if he stays. If he doesn’t and is traded more money will be available.
But when will he be dealt if at all? If he’s going to be shipped off in exchange for draft picks, it makes sense to wait it out and let teams spend and then strike a deal shortly before the draft to gain extra picks.
By that time, every NFL executive knows their team’s strengths and weaknesses and someone will be thin at defensive end. That will make a trade more likely because some GM will be getting antsy and a little nervous.
But if that big Peppers contract isn’t cleared off the books, expect little to no activity for Carolina in free agency.
P.S. Remember last year? The Panthers were quiet early and hardly made a splash. Landon Johnson and DJ Hackett were their only two “big name” free agents of the offseason.
This year might be even more quiet.