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April 29, 2006

NFL Draft: Panthers address needs

After drafting a running back, cornerback, linebacker and offensive tackle on Saturday, the Panthers have done a pretty good job of addressing their needs.

They have four picks Sunday, and their only real remaining needs are depth at tight end and safety.

A kick returner and a fullback also could be possibilities.

Carolina's remaining picks are 121st overall (fourth round), 155th overall (fifth round) and two seventh-round choices (234 and 237).

Posted by Observer Sports on April 29, 2006 at 10:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

NFL Draft: Marshall will challenge for playing time

Richard Marshall, the Fresno State cornerback taken in the second round by the Panthers, might not be a household name and he wasn't getting a lot of hype leading into the draft.

But draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr., had Marshall rated higher than Antonio Cromartie (taken 19th in the first round).

You have to like the fact that Marshall returned three of his nine career interceptions for touchdowns. He's known as a very confident player and should challenge Reggie Howard for the nickel back job.

Marshall also has some return ability and that might have factored heavily into the Panthers' decision to draft him. The Panthers would like to take Steve Smith off punt returns (at least part time) to avoid his exposure to injury. They also might take a look at Marshall as a kickoff returner.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 29, 2006 at 07:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

NFL Draft: Williams a safe choice

Like the pick a lot.

Yea, DeAngelo Williams is not a big back. But he was the safe choice here. He's been productive and has no character issues.

The same can't be said for LenDale White. Yea, he's the Stephen Davis type runner, but not the Stephen Davis type person. There's a reason why he fell out of the first round and the Panthers were smart to avoid White.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 29, 2006 at 05:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

You can rule out LenDale White

To the LenDale White fan club:

There were red flags already. But, now it almost certainly isn't going to happen. Well, maybe the Panthers still could get him in the fourth round.


Posted by Observer Sports on April 29, 2006 at 02:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 25, 2006

Radio clause makes Keyshawn special already

   Are the Carolina Panthers already bending the rules for Keyshawn Johnson?

   It depends on how you look at it.

   Although the Panthers have been wording contracts in recent years to forbid players from having their own regular radio and television shows, Johnson will have a regular show next season on Sirius NFL Radio, according to sources with knowledge of Johnson’s contract with the Panthers and the satellite radio station.

   Johnson has had the show each of the last two years and his Carolina contract was structured with language to allow that to continue.

   The difference, in the eyes of the team, is that Johnson’s show is national. The team started putting the clause into players’ contracts to prevent them from having their own local shows. Players are allowed to make occasional appearances on local radio and television, but the team has its own broadcasting division and wants most appearances on the team’s own shows.

   If that doesn’t seem to make much sense, it’s only because it doesn’t.

   Could get interesting if, let’s say, ESPN approaches let’s say Steve Smith or Kris Jenkins, about having a show.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 25, 2006 at 10:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

April 21, 2006

Bears make offer to Manning

With the clocking ticking closer to the midnight deadline for signing restricted free agents to offer sheets, the Chicago Bears have made a contract proposal to Panthers cornerback Ricky Manning.

But it's going to take a big increase in what the Bears are offering or a change in Manning's demands for something to happen before the deadline. According to sources close to the situation, the two sides remain far apart on details of the contract.

Chicago's current offer may average about the same or less than the $712,000 Manning would earn next season if he stays with the Panthers. Manning would become an unrestricted free agent after next season.

The sources said Manning wants Chicago to sweeten its offer to include escalators that would significantly increase his pay if he ends up winning a starting job. The Bears made their offer after a meeting that spilled over into the early hours of this morning.

The Chicago front office had been hesitant to make an offer to Manning, but the coaching staff persisted. A compromise was reached and the Bears decided to make a relatively low offer.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 21, 2006 at 02:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Bears interest in Manning heats up

   Although recent indications were the Chicago Bears weren't going to make an offer to Panthers restricted free agent Ricky Manning, that may have changed late last night. According to Chicago sources, Bears officials met late last night and into this morning to talk about a potential deal for Manning.

   The Bears will have to tip their hand soon. They have until midnight to sign Manning to an offer sheet. If an offer sheet is signed, the Panthers would have seven days to match it. If the Panthers decline to match, they would receive Chicago's third-round pick in this year's draft as compensation.

If Chicago makes the offer, it's expected to be a fairly conventional deal because Bears general manager doesn't believe in using the "poison pill'' clauses that have become popular with other teams.

Manning, Carolina's third cornerback last season, met with Bears officials last week.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 21, 2006 at 12:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

April 10, 2006

Contract year breakthrough?

A reader recently e-mailed to ask which Panthers are in the last year of their contracts. His rationale was that’s the type of player who usually has a breakthrough season.

But when looking at the players not under contract for 2007, you realize the Panthers have done a good job of securing their core for the long term. Most of the players who aren’t under contract for 2007 won’t make this year’s roster. It’s possible the Panthers could have only one starter in 2006 who becomes a free agent in 2007. That’s likely to be at one of the safety positions, where Shaun Williams and Colin Branch (both potential unrestricted free agents) are expected to compete for a starting job.

Other than that, the most prominent names on the list are Jordan Carstens, Chris Draft, Michael Gaines, Nick Goings, Ricky Manning and Mike Seidman.

If you’re looking for a breakthrough player, the best bets of that bunch might be Gaines or Seidman. The tight ends have potential, and the Panthers have wanted to get more out of this position for several years.

In alphabetical order, here’s the list of Panthers under contract for 2006, but not 2007.

Lorenzo Alexander

Chad Beasley

David Bergeron

Colin Branch

Tony Brown

Jordan Carstens

Drew Carter

Matt Cherry

Vinny Ciurciu

Casey Cramer

Chris Draft

Atiyyah Ellison

Shannon Fitzhugh

Michael Gaines

Nick Goings

Otis Grigsby

Jermaine Hardy

Phil Hawkins

Alex Haynes

Efrem Hill

Reggie Howard

Micah Knorr

Otis Leverette

Ricky Manning

Kindal Moorehead

Sean Mulcahy

Billy Parker

Jared Peck

Scott Peters

Jamal Robertson

Chris Samp

Mike Seidman

Sean Tufts

Garnell Wilds

Shaun Williams

Brandon Winey

Posted by Observer Sports on April 10, 2006 at 11:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

April 01, 2006

Fox: Foster, Jenkins expected 100 percent for camp

ORLANDO - The two biggest injury question marks for the Panthers, running back DeShaun Foster and defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, are expected to be 100 percent healthy for the start of training camp in July, coach John Fox said during this week’s NFL meetings in Orlando.

Jenkins is recovering from ACL surgery on his knee, and Foster is coming back from a broken fibula. Both are taking part in the team’s offseason program, which started this week.

"They’re on target as far as their rehab,’’ Fox said. "It’ll be touch and go as far as whether they’re ready for our minicamp after the draft. Everybody will have some work to do in the offseason program, whether it’s rehab or actual work, they’re all on schedule.’’

Posted by Observer Sports on April 1, 2006 at 01:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)