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February 21, 2007

Panthers might have interest in linebacker Fletcher-Baker

The Panthers have been quietly saying they won’t be major players in free agency. That probably is true, because they’re not going to have much salary-cap space.

But they won’t be entirely inactive, mainly because they can’t afford to sit still after an 8-8 season. Expect them to make a move for a starter or two, and don’t be surprised if they try to make a run at Buffalo free agent linebacker London Fletcher-Baker.

Free agency doesn’t start until March. 2, but there are rumblings that the Panthers are likely to show interest in Fletcher-Baker. There are similar rumblings about Detroit and Washington.

The Panthers can’t really afford to get into a bidding war with Redskins owner Dan Snyder, but there are plenty of reasons why pursuing Fletcher-Baker makes sense.

Let’s assume the Panthers keep often-injured linebacker Dan Morgan – and that’s not a given. The Panthers can’t afford to assume Morgan will stay healthy, so they need a top-notch starter as an alternative.

Using a first-round pick on Mississippi’s Patrick Willis is an option. But there’s no guarantee Willis will last until the 14th pick. More importantly, the Panthers believe they are only a few players away from contending for a Super Bowl, and a play-making middle linebacker is one of those players.

Willis might turn out to be great, but making a rookie the quarterback of their defense might not be something the Panthers want to do. They’re likely to be starting two inexperienced players (James Anderson and Thomas Davis) at the outside linebacker positions.

Putting Willis between them might create a formula for a lot of mistakes. Putting Fletcher-Baker in the middle would bring the kind of experience that could help Anderson and Davis along.

Posted by Observer Sports on February 21, 2007 at 04:24 PM | Permalink

Comments

Good post. This will be a tough choice for Hurney and Fox. Fletcher-Baker would be a good move, but it'll be tough to pass on this kid out of Mississipi.

Posted by: Patrick | Feb 23, 2007 12:28:55 AM

How is Thomas Davis inexperienced? And if he is, the only reason he is inexperienced is because of the coaching staff.

Posted by: Lee | Feb 23, 2007 8:09:07 AM

What about Adlius Thomas??? The Ravens didn't franchise him. Would he be too expensive?

Posted by: Carter | Feb 23, 2007 8:46:17 AM

TD still has not played consecutive seasons at the same position. As for Thomas, he's WAY out of the Panthers' price range.

Posted by: Michael Procton | Feb 26, 2007 12:45:58 PM

Yeah Thomas is out of the price range and I do not think he would fit in our scheme very well anyways...

I think they are actually quite a few linebackers that we could pick up in free agency that would be a good fit, and London Fletcher-Baker has really gone downhill I'm not sure thats what I want is another underachieving panther.

Posted by: Gamble | Feb 27, 2007 10:30:44 PM

What about Chris Draft? He led the team in tackles and 2nd in sacks. He's a veteran who's been the most consistent and the only defensive player on the Panther's team to start all 16 games, even if they didn't list him as a starter. You guys sound almost blind to the stats and who held the defense together and who spanked Atlanta's butt every time he started at Middle linebacker. I think the 2 positions that need to be filled are absolutely off the mark. What do you people look at? That's why the Panther's get so close and then mess up by replacing the wrong players. Loyalty to their big named players has never served them any justice!!!!

Posted by: Kenny | Feb 27, 2007 11:13:59 PM

The Panthers need to get Fletcher Baker and not renew Rucker and Morgan's contract. Panthers should release Colbert and Hankton. Use Taye Biddle to return punts and install Justin McCullum to replace Colbert.

Posted by: Shedrick Williams | Feb 28, 2007 7:17:20 AM

I want us to go and get Ken Hamlin at Safety. I think we need more help at Safety then LB. Between T. Davis, Draft and Anderson, that's a pretty solid LB group. Safety there is no talent left, Minter is a great Vet. but he can't play like he used to. Hamlin is where our money needs to go.

Posted by: Josh | Feb 28, 2007 11:18:16 AM

I would also like to see us go and get Daniel Graham at TE. We need to a pass catching TE to open up the passing game for S. Smith and open up the running game. But the major plus for Graham is not only can he catch, but he can also block.

Spend the little money we have on Hamlin and Graham and we could be playing for the title next season and season's to come.

Posted by: Josh | Feb 28, 2007 11:20:34 AM

The only position we really need to look at in Free Agency is TE, especially now that Kris Mangum has announced his retirement. I agree that Daniel Graham would be a great acquistion, but Carolina can't afford him if they get in a money battle over him - we're not exactly in the best salary cap shape. The Safety problem is the biggest need, which is why LaRon Landry or Reggie Nelson needs to be our first round pick. Chris Draft needs to be re-signed as a backup to Morgan, and he could even start as Outside Linebacker should problems arise there. However, I think that Anderson and Davis can keep things under control there, though we should probably take a LB in the second round. If Keyshawn retires, Drew Carter could easily step up to the #2 receiver spot. And as long as the Offensive Line recovers, Carolina should be good to go for the Super Bowl title.

Posted by: Cody | Feb 28, 2007 6:10:40 PM

The only position we really need to look at in Free Agency is TE, especially now that Kris Mangum has announced his retirement. I agree that Daniel Graham would be a great acquistion, but Carolina can't afford him if they get in a money battle over him - we're not exactly in the best salary cap shape. The Safety problem is the biggest need, which is why LaRon Landry or Reggie Nelson needs to be our first round pick. Chris Draft needs to be re-signed as a backup to Morgan, and he could even start as Outside Linebacker should problems arise there. However, I think that Anderson and Davis can keep things under control there, though we should probably take a LB in the second round. If Keyshawn retires, Drew Carter could easily step up to the #2 receiver spot. And as long as the Offensive Line recovers, Carolina should be good to go for the Super Bowl title.

Posted by: Cody | Feb 28, 2007 6:19:12 PM

I think the LB corps is good to go for now, but going after another pass rusher would be a good idea, whether it's a DE or a LB. Where we really need the most help is the offensive line. And the help we need is a healthy line. Last season we lost three starters to season ending injuries. If they stay healthy, and Jake has a TE to dump the ball off to, then the offense stays on the field longer and scores more points. Then we'll also force more teams to play from behind against us, and our defense will be able to domore in the fourth quarter besides tackling running backs who are running down the clock. Why do we have to wait until halfway through the second quarter to get our first firstdown?

Posted by: charlson | Mar 1, 2007 11:00:50 AM

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