Some thoughts on a very buys two days in which the Panthers released QB Jake Delhomme, DTs Damione Lewis and Maake Kemoeatu and LB’s Na’il Diggs and Landon Johnson…
THINK ABOUT THIS: Carolina fans agonized all last season over the team’s decision to use the franchise tag on defensive end Julius Peppers and pay him $16.7 million for one season.
Well, guess what?
As it turns out, the Panthers actaully paid Delhomme more than they did Peppers.
In fact, Delhomme collected $19 million for one season. Yep, that’s how much the Panthers had to pay him as a result of a bad contract last year – all of that money guaranteed. Simply put, the Panthers made a horrible contractual mistake and it cost them. Remember, they could have chosen not to extend Delhomme and let him play out the fina; year of his contract in 2009. Obviously hindsight is 20-20, but that move would have saved owner Jerry Richardson roughly $14 million.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR JAKE: It wouldn’t surprise me if New Orleans gives Delhomme a look. Buffalo, Cleveland and Arizona could be options, too. Delhomme’s agent Rick Smith said he’s not even fielding phone calls from other teams until after the weekend so as to allow Delhomme to gather himself and recover from an emotional day.
FREE AGENTS VISITS: A lot of you have spent the day reading about who the Panthers cut, but not about who they’re targeting. That’s because there hasn’t been much to report on incoming free agents. And when I say not a lot, I really mean none.
I’ve not stumbled across any free agents who are currently headed to town for a visit. I’ve said all along I expect the Panthers to wait until the “second wave” of free agency before making a splash. They may look at a few guys early next week, but will for the most part let the market die down.
Look for the Panthers to target second-tier players since they’ve had luck with guys like Tyler Brayton and Keydrick Vincent in the past.
WIDE RECEIVER UPDATE: Carolina’s biggest need heading into free agency was finding a No. 2 receiver, but a lot of the big names are flying off the board.
The Baltimore Ravens acquired Anquan Boldin from Arizona and a fifth-round draft pick for a third- and fourth-round pick. They gave Boldin a reasonable contract (four years, $25 milliono), one I thought the Panthers could have afforded. Heck I would have done that. To me, that’s a steal.
Also, Nate Burleson has signed with Detroit and Kevin Walter re-upped with Houston.
Tampa Bay’s Antonio Bryant, Kansas City’s Chris Chambers and Buffalo’s Josh Reed, who has a history with Panthers new receivers coach, are still possibilities to play opposite Steve Smith.
LINEBACKER UPDATE: I was really shocked the Philadelphia Eagles released LB Will Witherspoon after trading for him last year. I think there’s a chance Witherspoon (with a little help recruiting from Dan Morgan) might want to come back home if the price is right. After all, the Panthers need to find someone to fill Na’il Diggs’ spot at strong side linebacker.
DEFENSIVE END UPDATE: Kyle Vanden Bosch rejoined former Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz in Detroit, meaning one of the top ends is off the market. So is Phillip Daniels, who re-signed with Washington, and Justin Bannan, who inked a deal with Denver. Green Bay DE Aaron Kampman is still out there.
PANTHERS MOVEMENT: Of the eight Panthers who hit the free agent market on Friday, two signed new contracts — Julius Peppers and, surprisingly, QB A.J. Feeley, who inked a two-year deal with the St. Louis Rams. (It must have been all that experience he gained last year with the Panthers).
Peppers got a deal that included $42 million in guaranteed money and could be worth $92 million overall. It wasn’t as much as Albert Haynesworth’s deal, but I think Peppers will be able to survive on that, don’t you? Amazing… all to play the game of football.
QUARTERBACK UPDATE: I’ll admit it, yes, I was surprised to learn the Panthers were cutting Delhomme.
I think it comes down to this: they were worried that if they kept Delhomme around Matt Moore would have spent more time looking over his shoulder and not enough time working on his game. That said, I think Delhomme really would have been a good backup. He’s a great team guy and, if his role had been explained to him, would have accepted it and supported Moore.
As for Delhomme’s replacement, something tells me the Panthers will trade for someone and then draft a quarterback high – just a hunch. Jason Campbell, maybe? By the way, Chad Pennington re-signed with the Miami Dolphins.
VIDEO CHECK: Remember to check out my video from Jake Delhomme’s press conference on this website. If nothing else you’ll walk away realizing how much this guy cared about playing for the Panthers.
Well, it’s about 12:20 a.m. and I’ve had about two hours sleep in the last 48 hours and I have to coach two youth playoff basketball games in the morning, so I’m going to get some rest. I will have more information tomorrow. Hope you enjoyed the stories and columns today and the blog updates. G’night, folks!