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March 08, 2006

Witherspoon might not be difference maker to Panthers

If Derrick Brooks had not agreed to a massive pay cut earlier this week, Tampa Bay would have cut the veteran linebacker and made a "very aggressive play'' for Carolina free agent Will Witherspoon, according to a source within the Bucs organization.

Scratch the Bucs off the list, but there still will be a lot of teams showing interest in Witherspoon as soon as free agency starts (for now, anyway, it's scheduled to begin at 12:01 Thursday morning.) Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Minnesota and others are expected to pursue Witherspoon, who is considered one of the top 10 free agents.

The Panthers have made an offer to Witherspoon and he remains interested in Carolina, but it only makes sense for him to test the market. There's a very strong chance Witherspoon will have more value to another team than to the Panthers, who already have a pile of money tied up in middle linebacker Dan Morgan.

If you consider how Carolina's front office has operated in the past, there's a very good chance Witherspoon won't return. Carolina always has been hesitant to pay big money to players unless they're "difference makers.'' There's no doubt the Panthers think Witherspoon is a very good player, but they might not view him as a difference maker.

There's a reason the Panthers drafted Thomas Davis in the first round last year. It was to prepare for the eventual possibility of losing Witherspoon. There's a bit of irony here: When the Panthers drafted Davis, team officials said they believed he could become a "Derrick Brooks type linebacker.''

Posted by Observer Sports on March 8, 2006 at 08:26 PM | Permalink


I don't understand how you believe the Panther's FO will place a high priority on resigning Witherspoon. By cutting Brandon Short, and not coveting Witherspoon, the Panthers would be taking a tremendous bet that a) TD can become a productive starter, b) Morgan stays healthy in 2006, and c) Chris Draft can step in or we can get a solid LB in free agency. Look at last year’s stats; because by my calculation Short/Witherspoon recorded over half of the LB Corps’ tackles.

I do agree with you that he will be offered better money elsewhere, especially in Jacksonville, where Del Rio knows how much of an asset ‘Spoon is.

Posted by: CPC | Mar 9, 2006 4:16:59 PM

Will Witherspoon not a diffence maker? I seem to remember the 2004 season where he posted 102 tackles, 3 sacks and 4 INTs. Not bad for someone who apparently doesn't make a difference, my friend. I also seem to remember Witherspoon returning an INT for a TD this year? When's the last time a Panthers linebacker did that?

Posted by: Shane Dunaway | Mar 9, 2006 5:28:31 PM

I just don't want the Panthers to learn how valuable Spoon is next year when the the defense suffers for not having him around. He is a differnce maker and the numbers Shane points out in his comments prove just that.

Posted by: Murphy | Mar 10, 2006 11:09:38 AM

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