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December 16, 2006

8 Panthers under roster bonus scrutiny

Just looking ahead to next season, which soon might be the norm around here.

Barring a miracle, this season of disappointment could make for an interesting March. Teams tend to make personnel moves when things don’t go the way they want and the salary cap can play a huge role in those decisions.

The first week in March is always interesting because that’s when a lot of players have roster bonuses due. That often prompts teams to make financial moves to create cap room, and the Panthers are likely to play that game.

Other salary cap and performance issues also will come into play, and we’ll deal with those at another time. But there are eight Panthers with roster bonuses of particular interest.

1. Jake Delhomme: He has a $2 million roster bonus. There’s been some suggestion the Panthers may look for a new quarterback in the offseason. That might be a little drastic and it’s probably too soon to totally give up on Delhomme. The Panthers likely will pay Delhomme his roster bonus and keep him around. But they may bring in someone to challenge him or provide a solid alternative if he doesn’t bounce back from the funk he’s been in this season.

2. Dan Morgan: The middle linebacker is due a $2 million roster bonus and the chances of him seeing that are slim. Morgan has been out since the opener with lingering concussion problems. He’ll visit a doctor again in February and still has hopes of playing next season. The point could be moot if the doctor doesn’t clear Morgan and he’s forced to retire. If Morgan is cleared, the Panthers would have to view anything he does as a bonus and they can’t afford to put any more money into his pocket. Maybe they could restructure his contract. But they’re going to need to invest significant money to bring in a couple of new linebackers.

3. Mike Rucker: The defensive end has a $2.5 million roster bonus. Let’s face facts, Rucker isn’t getting any younger and he hasn’t had a great season. Nice guy and a great locker room presence, but that doesn’t always win out when it comes to business decisions.

4. Al Wallace: The veteran backup defensive end has a $500,000 roster bonus. Same story as Rucker, although the numbers aren’t as dramatic.

5. Damione Lewis: The backup defensive tackle has a $500,000 roster bonus. Lewis is a decent backup, but he hasn’t been spectacular. The Panthers may pay this bonus because it’s possible Lewis could challenge for a starting role next season. Starters Kris Jenkins and Maake Kemoeatu are making a ton of money and aren’t doing anything special. One of them could be gone.

6. Kris Mangum: The veteran tight end has a $100,000 bonus. Next season is the last on Mangum’s contract. He’s not getting any younger. But his bonus isn’t that dramatic. He’s versatile and a good locker room guy. Most importantly, none of the young tight ends have stepped forward.

7. Kevin McAdam: The backup safety has a $75,000 roster bonus. In the grand scheme, $75,000 isn’t that much. But McAdam has been nothing more than a special teams player and he hasn’t stood out in that area.

8. Chris Weinke: Has the possibility of earning a $2.7 million roster bonus. This may be the most interesting of all the roster bonuses. But it might be a moot point. Weinke’s bonus is contingent on him playing a certain amount of snaps and reaching certain statistical levels. The exact amount of snaps and the specifics on the statistical levels are not available. But Weinke probably won’t trigger the bonus. It’s likely this provision was put in his contract in case Delhomme had been hurt early in the year and Weinke had played most of the season and put up strong numbers.

Posted by Observer Sports on December 16, 2006 at 07:00 PM | Permalink

Comments

Let's hope for Dan's own sake he's forced to retire. Secondary point...he's never played the whole season. Time to cut the cord even if he's cleared. Kemoeatu needs to go. I like Rucker, but time for him to go, too. Weinke's play has reinforced the fact that many of Jake's problems come from lack of protection and no running game. Jake's OK, but going after a guy who can really compete with him is good, too. Bottom line we need a major shakeup. Look at the Saints, with a coaching change and 34 new players this year, they're kicking butt like never before.

Posted by: Crystal Ball | Dec 18, 2006 12:14:43 PM

One more veteran name that should be cut loose -- Mike Minter. He's a great guy, true role model, and a terrific spokesperson. But he's definitely lost a step this year... Hope the Richardsons can find room for him (and maybe Rucker) in the front office somewhere. Or he would make a great color commentator on radio or TV.

Posted by: Adam | Dec 19, 2006 2:31:05 PM

I always said they should of let Dan go and kept Will. They need to let go of some of those big name big money no shows and get some hungry want to work linemen in there.
Is anyone getting younger on the team?

Posted by: scott | Dec 20, 2006 7:05:15 AM

anybody remember gamble and how many missed tackles he had (uh hum...redskins) we outta kiss chris goodbye

Posted by: pantherfan760 | Jan 18, 2007 1:26:13 AM

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