Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Panthers making cap room

The first wave of player releases came through on Wednesday. Carolina cut WR D.J. Hackett, RB Nick Goings, and OL Jeremy Bridges, and the moves save the team an estimated $4.5 million dollars under the salary cap.

It's the necessary evil of the NFL, and it's also the harsh reality of the NFL. Hackett's stay with the Panthers was less than memorable. 13 catches for 181 yards. Not the stuff legends are made of. He made 9 starts in 2008, and was looked at as a viable number 3 receiver. In the end, his lack of durability cost him time on the field, and allowed Dwayne Jarrett a chance to show he could make big catches in key situations. Believe it or not, Jarrett did make some nice grabs in crucial 3rd down situations. Jarrett has no excuses to not be the reliable, every game guy going forward.

Hard to say goodbye to Goings, but all good things must come to an end. Goings was one of the most versatile players the Panthers have had--he contributed on offense, as well as special teams. He plays with reckless abandon, with his heart, and sometimes with his head--that cost him a couple concussions. Goings, in the end, was a guy that could be let go based on his cost. Role players don't command big salaries, and while Goings wasn't huge, it was big enough that the Panthers could try and go cheaper. Best of luck to Nick in the future. He was a tremendous professional in Carolina. I hope he catches on with another team.

As for Bridges, this one gives me pause. Yes, he had his share of off-the-field issues, but he did provide stability at the guard position, and filled some depth for the tackles as well (remember Jordan Gross going to sleep against the Falcons with a concussion?). Considering the potential loss of Geoff Hangartner in free agency, my personal hope is that they find a way to bring Bridges back at a lower price. If not, the O-line backups will have a little different look, and that means some uncertainty in the depth department.

More on the cuts and such as they come in, as the free agency period officially opens on Friday.

Mike Solarte

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