Monday, March 8, 2010

Who is going to be left?

The Carolina Panthers continue to jettison players over the age of 30, with 10-year veteran, and incredibly likable FB Brad Hoover being released on Monday. The lead fullback, the guy that plowed into the sea of humanity to help Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams to rack up over 2200 yards is, apparently, of no use to the Panthers any longer.

He only played in 152 games over 10 years (3rd most in team history), and started 95 (7th most). For a fullback, that is ridiculously durable. Hoover prided himself on being in the best shape he could be in, and over time, the beating and banging had taken its toll. Still, he ached more when he didn't play.

Mentioned likable. Hoover was the inaugural recipient of the Tom Berry Good Guy Award in 2009. He was, and will remain, a fan favorite. His agent quoted by Darin Gantt of the Rock Hill Herald & Charlotte Observer, says Brad leaves with a "heavy heart." Why wouldn't he? He was an undrafted free agent that impressed coaches so much, they had no choice but to keep him. 10 years later, he's an unrestricted free agent.

It is my sincere hope Hoover catches on with a team that comes to Carolina this season. I want to see the reception he will get from the fans, which should be as warm as the sun in a Carolina spring.

That being said, the question remains: who will be left?

If the trend continues, guys like Jason Baker and John Kasay should be a little nervous. Over 30, with time left on their contracts. As I type this, I don't think anything will happen to those 2, Kasay especially, as the Panthers could have tabbed Rhys Lloyd (now a free agent and talking to Minnesota at last check), as their kicker, and released Kasay. Baker is quite good at his job, and getting rid of him might make even less sense.

In the past 4 days, Carolina has waved goodbye to QB Jake Delhomme, DT Maake Kemoeatu, DT Damione Lewis, LB Na'il Diggs, LB Landon Johnson, and now Hoover (I may be leaving someone out, forgive me if I have). On Friday, Head Coach John Fox and GM Marty Hurney said they are committed to their younger players, and they will build around their core. It's a good core, mind you. Having tendered LB Thomas Davis, Carolina has Davis, Jon Beason, and Dan Connor making up a good group. The defensive line, however, is remarkably invisible. No starters will return in 2010. DE Tyler Brayton is unrestricted at this time, and may not be back, Lewis and Kemoeatu were to start there in 2009, and that Peppers guy....well, you know. The secondary still has familiar faces, with S Chris Harris remaining, and CB Chris Gamble back. Captain Munnerlyn and Sherrod Martin showed plenty of flash during their rookie season, and the wait is on about CB Richard Marshall. The team placed a 2nd round tender on him--attractive enough for a team to give him a long term deal, in exchange for a 2nd round pick. Watching the way the Panthers are ditching salary, my guess is if Marshall gets a deal elsewhere, Carolina wouldn't match. Just my guess.

Offensively, solid offensive line returning. The only hole to fill is at RG, with Keydrick Vincent not coming back. Mackenzy Bernadeau and Geoff Schwartz showed they can play at the NFL level last season. No worries at the RB post, either with Double Trouble in the fold. The QB position is entrusted to Matt Moore now. WR is another mystery altogether. Get past Steve Smith, and the Panthers don't have much on the roster. Muhsin Muhammad is unrestricted, and the jury remains out on Dwayne Jarrett.

All this roster shuffling/contract ditching is making me think the Panthers aren't doing this solely to commit to youth. It appears to me this might be the Panthers way of preparing for the uncapped season, and potential lockout on the horizon. Go inexpensive, short term deals, and let the chips fall where they may.

Mike Solarte

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1 comment:

hasbeen99 said...

I can think of only one Panther you missed in your list of cuts -- Dante Wesley.

Good post, Mike. Professional as always, with a good mix of fact and theory, and just a dash of homer passion for good measure.