Putting a Positive Spin on a Long Day in Carolina

Wow, we made it through a fascinating and long day in Carolina Panthers history; quite possibly one of the biggest day in Panthers history in regards to personnel decisions.

Everyone expected defensive end Julius Peppers‘ move onto the free agent market. We all knew it would be a short stay for Pep, who was on the market for 15 hours before he and the Chicago Bears finalized a deal that will keep Peppers in Chi-town for six years, and most likely the remainder of his career.

The bigger—perhaps biggest news of the day came as a shock, when rumors leaked out late Thursday night that the Panthers would be moving on without seven-year veteran Jake Delhomme, as their quarterback.

The press conference was a tear-jerker, although I didn’t get to join in on that, being ESPN had it’s own programming going on. But seeing some of the replays throughout the day, it definitely looked like a situation that was handled with delicacy and class.

In the end, it was a move that was necessary for monetary and business reasons. It doesn’t sit well with a lot of fans for various reasons. Others are indifferent; some are happy with the move, again for various reasons.

While it pained me a bit, I was in support of the move. When news first came across the wire late last night, I was actually excited because it signaled the beginning of a new era.

Will I miss Delhomme? Yeah, I’ll miss him. His intangibles are irreplaceable. He was a leader, a competitor, a good role model, and perhaps the type of person a father would want his son to grow up to be like.

But I understand the need to move on. I can’t promise anyone that the Matt Moore era will be a grand success, but the kid has got to start sometime, and he did make a strong showing late in the Panthers’ 2009 campaign. So let’s rally behind him as the Panthers’ new offensive signal-caller.

The Panthers also said good byes  (though less tearful) to defensive tackles Maake Kemoeatu, Damione Lewis, and linebackers Na’il Diggs and Landon Johnson.

Kemoeatu’s release I half expected. It’s an uncapped year, he’s coming off an Achilles’ injury and surgery. Is he really worth the risk? Probably not.

Damione Lewis was something of a curious move. He is 32, and 10 seasons in the NFL has an effect on the body that I can’t even imagine. If the Panthers sign him to a long-term contract, you’re looking at probably keeping him until he’s 36. Not much sense there, either.

Na’il Diggs is another player who will turn 32 in July, and again with no risk of being bitten by a salary cap penalty, the Panthers moved on without Diggs as well.

Of the players released today, Landon Johnson was probably about the most surprising, but age would be the only element of surprise.

Everyone released today also shared something in common: they were on the back side of their contracts, some were old, they were due salaries that were greater than their actual value, and guys like Johnson, Lewis, Diggs, and Kemoeatu were originally brought in as role players.

This doesn’t leave the Panthers without anyone on the roster, although the remaining players are young and for the most part inexperienced as starters.

Delhomme’s replacement is probably the easiest for the Panthers to name: Matt Moore. But the rest of the roster gets tricky.

With the departures of defensive tackles Hollis Thomas, and Damione Lewis, the Panthers have six defensive tackles with a total combined four starts…That’s the scary part.

At the defensive tackle position, the Panthers return a core of youngsters in Nick Hayden, Louis Leonard, Tank Tyler, Corvey Irvin, Derek Landri, and newly-acquired Ed Johnson (who played under defensive coordinator Ron Meeks in Indianapolis).

“What happened at defensive tackle was last year, in training camp after Maake went down (with a torn Achilles tendon), that was probably our biggest position of need. We were very aggressive and went out and made a couple trades (of) draft choices and got Louis Leonard and Tank Tyler. We feel like we’ve got some young guys at defensive tackle who can step up.” -Panthers GM, Marty Hurney

Taking over Diggs’ and Johnson’s newly vacated linebacker spots are a pair of third-round picks; James Anderson and Dan Connor.

Anderson, a restricted free agent who was tendered at a third-round level, started on the strong side in place of an injured Diggs at Dallas in Week Three.

Dan Connor started in Week 14 at the New England Patriots.

Replacing the departed Julius Peppers and Tyler Brayton at defensive end (easier said than done), are Charles Johnson and Everette Brown.

Whenever he was given an opportunity, Brown showed a lot of promise as the 2009 season carried on. A full offseason of training and conditioning with the team will help his ability a great deal.

Beyond the changes made today, the Panthers still have their core—Thomas Davis, Jon Beason, Chris Gamble, Jordan Gross, Steve Smith, DeAngelo Williams, and Jonathan Stewart.

Not a bad core of players to be left with, by any means. In the end, the Panthers want to get younger in areas they were aging. They want the young guys that they drafted a few years ago to step up and take over where their predecessors left off. It’s the best thing to do.

Moving on can be a painful experience, but these men understand that’s a part of life. Change isn’t always a bad thing, either. It comes with growing. Whether it’s in professional sports, or working a regular blue-collar 9-5, we can all be guaranteed of one thing: change. We might not always agree with it, but it’s always around the corner.

One thing to keep in mind too, and I’m going to leave off with this. The players will come and go. Some we’ll grow to love, some we’ll welcome their departure. But the fans stay. The fans are the lifers. They’re the ones who are supposed to remain loyal to the organization which they choose to affiliate themselves. Not the players. It’s not the nature of the business.

Topics: 2010 Restricted Free Agents, 2010 Unrestricted Free Agents, Carolina Panthers, Charles Johnson, Charlotte, Chicago Bears, Chris Gamble, Corvey Irvin, Damione Lewis, Dan Connor, DeAngelo Williams, Derek Landri, Ed Johnson, Everette Brown, Hollis Thomas, Jake Delhomme, James Anderson, Jon Beason, Jonathan Stewart, Jordan Gross, Landon Johnson, Louis Leonard, Ma'il Diggs, Maake Kemoeatu, Marty Hurney, Matt Moore, NC, New England Patriots, NFL, Nick Hayden, Ron Meeks, Steve Smith, Tank Tyler, Thomas Davis, Tyler Brayton

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  • Ron

    Personally, I believe the Panthers need another kicker, punter, Michael Vick, and Terrell Owens. This way, Moore will be tested in training camp, and pushed to reach his vast potential. Should he not, Vick will be waiting in the wings, with his highlight reel playmaking ability, wearing a uniform he looks great in. And if the Panthers are TRULY BLESSED and things fall into place in the draft, Vick would serve as an amazing mentor to Tim Tebow, who, ideally, would be an amazing addition as “quarterback of the future.” It would be a blessing for the Panthers, Tebow, and fans, as well.

    Terrell Owens gives you another sure-handed receiver, to compliment Steve Smith. And he brings personality to an otherwise bland locker room. And Lord knows you can NEVER have too many punters or kickers. Very hard to come by in this day and age. Brad Maynard, Michael Koenen, and Hunter Smith should be free, as well as kickers like Shaun Suisham, Olindo Mare, and Neil Rackers. All potential Hall of Famers.

    If the Panthers can somehow pull this all off, possibly using Gross, or Williams as trade bait, they’d be back in the thick of the NFC South, challenging the World Champs, and a healthy Falcons team. And if you believe a word of what I’ve just written, you’ve either had more to drink than I have tonight, are as dumb as I look, or simply certifiably NUTS.

  • Bboggs

    We need to draft Ed Dickson from Oregon a Dustin Keller type kid that can play like an Antonio Gates with good coaching. We need to make a move or two in free agency but i think we still have hope for play-offs next year. I wouldn’t be upset if we brought David Carr back in. He did have it rough with the new O.C and a banged up team to surround him. With his knowledge of the play book we could come in and threaten right away.

    • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blitzradio Eric Quackenbush

      So you didn’t like my article?

  • Bboggs

    LoL what made you say that? I was good just thought it needed my 2 cents and thoughs small changes.

    • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blitzradio Eric Quackenbush

      Pardon my sarcasm, lol.

      I don’t have a problem with the draft prospect you named. I’ll take a look at him later and see what he’s all about.

      As for David Carr, I really don’t see the point, and I think a lot of fans would be upset with that move. I know I would be. I think Matt Moore gives this team a good chance to win. He’s young, he’s also a competitor, I gained confidence in his abilities last season, and I’m comfortable with him starting on Sundays.

      Thanks for the read and comment, B.

  • bigholmes7

    I hated to see Jake go, but it was time. Hoover,while productive was on the back side of his career, and at an age where injuries are more and more possible……
    Peppers? HE wanted to go……..good luck to him in chi………………….
    We need Owens like we need Vick………….NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES……………neither of them has enough talent to put up with them, and Jerry would never allow the kind of crap they put out.
    We really do have a good group of good young guys.
    we need good coaching to make them come around. I hope foxie is up to it………………

    • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blitzradio Eric Quackenbush

      I agree with you all the way around, Holmes. Good posting.

  • Mark Buchanan

    I don’t agree with either one of you about Michael Vick! Michael Vick will give the Carolina Panthers a much better shot at winning a Super Bowl than Matt Moore would! Terrell Owens no, but Michel Vick yes! You guys can say what you like, but Vick has much more experience under center than Matt Moore has and he can handle pressure. With targets like Muhsin Muhammad and Steve Smith and 2 running backs like DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart the offense should flourish and be the most productive in the NFL. I am not the only Carolina Panthers fan that feel this way. There is about to be a movement on Facebook to petition the owner Jerry Richardson to go get Micheal Vick from Philadelphia. He’s not a backup QB, he’s a starter and a leader. Everyone makes mistakes, so let him that is without sin cast the first stone! Imagine Michael Vick playing against Atlanta twice! I know he would give it all he had and light it up! Jerry Richardson should listen to the Panther fans and go get him from Philadelphia immediately! You guys talk like he hasn’t proven to be a value to an NFL team just because of his misfortune. Give him a chance! I’m sure he won’t dissapoint us!

    • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blitzradio Eric Quackenbush

      Be careful what you wish for… Everything that glitters is not always gold; sometimes it’s fool’s gold.

  • Mark Buchanan

    And by the way, I agreed with Peppers, Jake should have been dumped last year! He’s a choke just like Kerry Collins was and he has proved it while with the Tenesse Titans!

    • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blitzradio Eric Quackenbush

      OK…

  • bigholmes7

    I wouldn’t take Vick or Owens if they came for free. They are poison. They will screw up the chemistry for any team, especially if you get them both. Besides, we have the Moose and Steve S. we don’t need a receiver, we need a quarterback that can get the ball to them. I think M.Moore can develop into a very good quarterback. I hope….I hope….I hope…

  • Mark Buchanan

    That shows how much you know about football, bigholmes7. Michael Vick would do nothing but make the Carolina Panthers a contender to win the Superbowl, not just go. I’m sure Muhsin Muhammad and Steve Smith would agree with my assesment. Vick has shown remorse for what he did and I believe he should be forgiven and given a chance to compete here. His work ethic has changed and his desire to be a true champion is back. You aren’t thinking with your head, just your feelings. That doesn’t cut it in sports like this. You’ve got to be willing to give a star player a shot at competing, especially if you’re hurting in a particular area. Matt Moore will be a good QB in the future, but we are talking about right now. Fans aren’t interested in championships that are down the road, they want them now! You’re right, Carolina doesn’t need a wide out, they need a QB, and Vick is the best fit. A lot of Carolina Panthers fans feel that way from the poll my group has taken (91%), so i’m not writing this for my health. I’m writing this because fans want to see him in Carolina. They (and I)seriously believe he can take the Panthers to the promise land! By the way, how did you come to your conclusion that Michael Vick is a cancer and not the cure? You surely didn’t look at his stats or his play! He hasn’t belittled anyone, so how did you come to your conclusion? I would LOVE to know the answer!

    • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blitzradio Eric Quackenbush

      So what’s Vick going to contribute to the Panthers to help them win? Run? The running quarterback days are virtually extinct. That’s why McNabb has had far greater success than Vick, because he developed his skill set and worked hard.

      I don’t want a guy on this team just because he likes the uniforms. That’s as good a reason to play for a team as saying you want to go to a college because you like the mascot.

      Vick is not a starting-caliber QB, and the Eagles will be lucky if they can trade him at this point.

  • Ron

    Michael Vick is not leading any team, EVER, to a Super Bowl. He’s not a good quarterback, period. At least not anymore. He’s older, slower, and is trying very hard to talk his way out of Philadelphia. He was never an accurate qb, either. He IS a cancer. He’s taken shots at the Eagles and Falcons any chance he’s gotten. And all Arthur Blanc did was stand by this joker until the last possible minute, when it became apparent that Vick IS a CRIMINAL!! And as for Smith and Muhammad- did you ask their opinions? If not, you CAN’T be sure that they’ll agree with your ridiculous opinion.

  • bigholmes7

    Looks like my answers were already posted by others before I got back to my computer.

    Carolina is a very class team, that can win without any criminals, or low live thugs.

    I teach little inner city kids, and love to point out to them what a quality young men we have on the team, and how they can grow up to be great people whether they play ball, or not.When Steve Smith got benched, we talked about how you have to be a man and stand up and take your punishment like a man, then go on and be even better than before……Steve proved himself after the problem, not just on the field, but off as well.That is who i want my little boys to look up to, not TO or Vick………….My little guys have plenty of bad influences, they don’t need any others….
    I don’t think jerry would bring in a ‘problem’ player under any circumstances, and I support him in that.
    I know for a fact that Owens has been poison on every team he has been on, and Vick bad mouthed the people who were paying his salary the whole time he was their ‘chosen guy’. Let both of them go to Dallas, they have no class from the front office down. Oh, wait, TO has alredy proved he doesn’t have enough class to play,even in Dallas.
    I stand by my comments above.
    We don’t need either of them