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February 27, 2006

Foster's agent: RB loves Carolina

Staff writer Stan Olson steps in for Pat Yasinskas to give us some insights from the NFL Combine last week in Indianapolis:

Although the Carolina Panthers placed the transition tag on running back Deshaun Foster, his agent doesn't sound bitter.

"It's just one of those things you have to deal with when it happens," David Dunn said at the NFL combine last week. "DeShaun loves it in Carolina; he loves it.

"He adores the ownership. (Owner) Jerry Richardson's concern as he went through his surgery (for a broken ankle) and has gone through his recovery has been just inspirational. And I think they both realize they're both good people. But we'll see how it plays out."

Foster broke his right ankle in the Jan. 15 divisional playoff at Chicago.

Under the transition tag, Foster must be paid $5,153,000 this season - the average of last year's top 10 salaries for running backs. That's more than he made in his first four years combined. If another team makes him a better offer, Carolina has the right to match it within seven days. The move also leaves the door open to negotiate a long-term contract, but Foster, 26, is young and the team would like to be more certain of his durability before signing him to a lengthy contract.

The one-year tender will not be guaranteed until the beginning of the regular season.

Posted by Observer Sports on February 27, 2006 at 12:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

February 22, 2006

A little break in the action ...

Pat is taking some off and will return to his blog next week.

Posted by Observer Sports on February 22, 2006 at 03:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

February 09, 2006

Surfer dude shows Sunseri how it's done

HONOLULU - Long before he was a football coach, Panthers coach John Fox was a surfer.

Growing up in Southern California, Fox said he surfed often and was "decent.'' Fox took a break from his duties as the NFC's Pro Bowl coach Wednesday to get back to his roots.

Fox said he surfed at Barber's Point, near the team's hotel. Some of that will be shown on the NFL Network.

Fox took defensive line coach Sal Sunseri, who grew up in Pittsburgh and had never surfed.

"Sal just paddled,'' Fox said with a laugh.

Posted by Observer Sports on February 9, 2006 at 05:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trgovac to Michigan? Not likely

HONOLULU – Rumors on message boards out of Michigan for more than a week suggest Panthers defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac is about to bolt Carolina to become defensive coordinator for the University of Michigan.

There was even a rumor that Trgovac was seen in Ann Arbor earlier this week. Trgovac played at Michigan, so this might not seem so far-fetched, except for a couple of very important points.

Trgovac has been in Hawaii, where he and the Panthers staff are coaching the NFC squad in Sunday’s Pro Bowl, since Friday.

Trgovac was asked about the Michigan rumors Wednesday night.

"No, that’s the first I’ve heard that,’’ Trgovac said. "I haven’t heard anything about that.’’

One other reason to doubt the rumors: Going to Michigan would likely be a cut in pay and Trgovac is probably one more season of solid play from Carolina’s defense away from having a shot at a head coaching job in the NFL.

Posted by Observer Sports on February 9, 2006 at 01:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 08, 2006

Smith, Delhomme in Pro Bowl skills contests

HONOLULU – The Pro Bowl is taking a lesson from the all-star games of the other major league sports. Following the lead of the NBA’s slam-dunk contest and baseball’s home-run derby, the NFL will hold the Pro Bowl skills challenge on Thursday and Friday in Honolulu. The events will be televised on ESPN at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Two Carolina Panthers will take part. Receiver Steve Smith will be part of the Best Hands competition with Chad Johnson, Torry Holt, Rod Smith, Marvin Harrison, Larry Fitzgerald, Antonio Gates and Chris Chambers.

Quarterback Jake Delhomme will take part in the On the Mark competition, where quarterbacks will be tested for accuracy. Michael Vick and Matt Hasselbeck are the other quarterbacks scheduled to participate.

Other events include Fastest Man, Open Field (obstacle course), Strongest Man and a kicking competition.

Posted by Observer Sports on February 8, 2006 at 11:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

February 04, 2006

Panthers need to start thinking about extension for Wharton

As the Carolina Panthers worry about re-signing some players who can become free agents in March, they also might want to start thinking about one player who can’t.

That’s left tackle Travelle Wharton. He’s under contract through 2007. If the Panthers truly believe Wharton is their left tackle for the long term, it might be wise to sign him to an extension soon.

It also might prevent some headaches. Wharton is scheduled to make $385,000 in 2006 and $460,000 in 2007. Everything is relative, but for a starting left tackle, Wharton is grossly underpaid. He knows it and his agent knows it. This won’t become a Terrell Owens situation, but don’t be surprised if some noise is made about Wharton’s salary if talks about an extension don’t come.

Wharton had a decent (but, by no means, great) first year as a starting left tackle. Even though the Panthers don’t have a lot of salary cap room for 2006, giving Wharton a raise and extension could help a lot down the road. Right now, the Panthers could sign Wharton to a very reasonable extension. If he plays well in 2006, the price tag goes up dramatically and he gets a step closer to free agency.

Posted by Observer Sports on February 4, 2006 at 04:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

February 03, 2006

Peppers gets new agent; new deal next?

Very quietly, Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers has switched agents. Peppers parted ways with Marvin Demhoff, one of the most powerful agents in NFL circles.

Peppers is now represented by Carl Carey, who has only been a certified agent since Aug. 15, 2005. But Peppers’ ties to Carey run deep. Carey was Peppers’ academic advisor at the University of North Carolina and has been an advisor and mentor to Peppers throughout his professional career.

One of Carey’s first duties as Peppers’ agent is likely to be a contract restructuring. Peppers has a salary cap figure of nearly $15 million for 2006. The Panthers are about $6 million over the expected cap limit ($92 million) right now and likely will try to lower Peppers’ cap number. Peppers has a $5.5 million base salary and the Panthers can convert most of that into bonus money to spread over a contract that runs through 2008.

But there also is the possibility, Peppers, Carey and the Panthers could try to work on a contract extension. In that scenario, the Panthers likely would free up a lot more cap room, but would have to pay Peppers a huge signing bonus.

Posted by Observer Sports on February 3, 2006 at 02:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)