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February 29, 2008

Panthers to be methodical in free agency

While the Panthers have a good start toward clearing cap space with their recent additions by subtraction, don’t hold your breath waiting for them to make a big splash in the free agent pool.

First, there is a sense that Carolina can do its best work at two absolutely key positions – offensive tackle and defensive end – with its first two picks in the draft. There are a number of high quality targets at both positions this year.

There are other needs though, including running back (DeAngelo Williams can’t do it all by himself), free safety and likely another receiver. And the Panthers are paying close attention to the free agent field and the waiver wire.

"I think we’ll be active (in the market)," general manager Marty Hurney said Friday. "I just think we’ll be ‘steady active.’. "

My guess is that would be as opposed to splashy active.

Keep in mind that Carolina, with the franchise tag on tackle Jordan Gross, will take a $7.45. million hit from that. And that they still haven’t worked anything out with Julius Peppers.

And one agent said today, "I don’t think at this point the Panthers feel they need to do all that much in free agency, especially with their quarfterback (Jake Delhomme) coming back so well from his surgery."

And remember, while the team will eventually save about $7. million from the releases of Dan Morgan and Mike Walhe, that doesn’t kick in until June. 2.

Well, as Hurney said, they’ll still be players in the market. To me, ‘steady active’ means picking up a number of less-expensive free agents that the team feels can either help immediately or have been underrated by their former teams.

STAN OLSON

Posted by Observer Sports on February 29, 2008 at 09:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (105)

It's official: Jenkins gone for picks

   Shortly before 3 p.m. today, the Panthers officially announced the Kris Jenkins trade.

   The team release said it was for undisclosed draft picks, but multiple sources have said Carolina receives the Jets' third- and fifth-round picks in this year's draft.

   The release include the following quotes from general manager Marty Hurney and coach John Fox.

   Hurney: "We've had several conversations with Kris over the last couple years and decided this was the right time for both parties to move in this direction. Kris has been a valuable member of our team the last seven years and we appreciate everything he has done for us and wish h im the best."

   Fox: "Kris has played a valuable role since our coaching staff arrived (in 2002). He showed determination in coming back the last two seasons after injuries to be a mainstay of our defense. We hope only the very best for Kris."

   Jenkins, a three-time Pro Bowler with the Panthers, agreed to a new five-year, $35 million contract with the Jets, which included $20 million guaranteed.

   The Panthers cleared $3 million in salary cap room by making the trade, including a $1 million roster bonus that was due in the next few days.

Posted by Observer Sports on February 29, 2008 at 03:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (45)

Details on picks from Jenkins trade

   The Panthers did about as well as anyone could have expected in getting third- and fifth-round picks in this year's draft from the Jets in exchange for Kris Jenkins.

     This just in: The picks the Panthers obtained are the fourth overall pick in the third round and the sixth pick in the fifth round, according to the NFL. That makes the third almost like a late second. Combined with their own first- and second-round picks, that gives them greater ability to use the draft address pressing needs at positions such as offensive tackle, running back and perhaps defensive line or safety.

    The fifth-round pick obtained from the Jets essentially replaces the fifth Carolina gave up last summer when the Panthers acquired safety Chris Harris from the Bears.

    The person who made out best of all, though, was Jenkins. His new five-year, $35 million contract, with $20 million in guaranteed money, is a stunning deal for a player who some believe may never play as well as he did a few years ago.

    Don't be surprised, though, if Jenkins excels in New York. If he's highly motivated, he can still be a star.
 
   -- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on February 29, 2008 at 02:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (34)

Is Brayton a fit for Panthers?

  Tyler Brayton certainly wasn't on the mind of Carolina Panthers fans when they thought of who the team might fly to town first once the free agency period opened.
   Unlike the "glamour" defensive ends of free agency, Cincinnati's Justin Smith and Tennessee's Antwan Odom, Brayton didn't appear on any lists of the top prospects available.
   He's been considered an underachiever in Oakland. After getting drafted in the first round (32nd overall) in 2003, the Raiders have tried him at defensive end, defensive tackle and outside linebacker. He has totaled six sacks.
   Yet there is some sentiment around the NFL that he's still got the potential to play much better. He's scheduled to arrive in Charlotte in time for dinner tonight, then to meet with coaches and others tomorrow.
   Tentatively, he's scheduled to visit some other teams, including Indianapolis.
   Stay tuned on this one. It's likely that Carolina coach John Fox sees something in Brayton that he thinks fits the Panthers scheme.
 
   -- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on February 29, 2008 at 02:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (25)

February 28, 2008

Jets a possible landing spot for Jenkins

It’s looking more and more like the New York Jets will be the team to trade for Carolina defensive tackle Kris Jenkins.Panthers_cowboys_28_3

But The Observer has learned that any such deal deal won’t involve linebacker Jonathan Vilma coming to Carolina. He’s probably getting traded, but more likely to somewhere like Detroit or New Orleans.

The Jets are interested in Jenkins playing nose tackle in their 3-4 defense. They’re shopping former first-round pick Dewayne Robertson, another defensive tackle. But Robertson won’t be coming to Carolina either in this deal. He’s already got a huge contract and wants a new multi-year deal.

So what might the Panthers get from the Jets for Jenkins? Perhaps a draft pick. Carolina most likely prefers a second-rounder. The Jets have second and third round picks in the top five of each round. Either choice could be legitimate compensation for Jenkins.

CHARLES CHANDLER

Posted by Observer Sports on February 28, 2008 at 08:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (52)

Deals stretch Panthers' cap space

The recent restructuring of the contracts of cornerback Ken Lucas and defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu saved the Panthers more than $3.5 million under the salary cap. By converting some of their base salaries into guaranteed money to pro-rate forward, and by guaranteeing roster bonuses to also pro-rate, the Panthers were able to lower Lucas' 2008 cap number by $2 million and Kemoeatu's by slightly more than $1.5 million.

The extra cap room helped as they re-signed some of their own players and now as they enter the free agency signing period.

   -- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on February 28, 2008 at 02:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (30)

Insider thinks Moss could be a Panther

0228moss     While the Panthers are likely to sign another veteran wide receiver in the wake of landing Muhsin Muhammad, most observers figure it will be an Ernest Wilford-type of guy who won't break their salary cap. And New England free agent Randy Moss, he of the 98 catches and 23 TDs last season and easily the top wideout available, is not even on  Panthers fans' radar. But one NFL insider has a very different take on things.

          "New England didn't franchise Randy, so they'll make a long-term offer," he said. "But they don't usually overpay guys. Say they offer him $50 million over five years with $20 million guaranteed (in bonus money).  Not a bad deal, right? But somebody out there will top it.

    "Carolina has freed up a lot of cap space with all the guys they've cut recently. Suppose they offer Randy a 6-year, $60 million deal with $25 million guaranteed?  Now, if the difference is one or two million, Moss probably gives the Patriots a discount and goes back.  But $5 million extra guaranteed? These guys have egos. And he knows that Carolina has been working aggressively to get better. Who's to say he doesn't make the move?"

    Carolina, of course, could spread the bonus money over the length of the contract for salary cap reasons, and our insider thinks it could work.

    "How would that be for a blockbuster?  Then you've got Jake Delhomme throwing to Steve Smith on one side and Moss on the other."

    Try to defense that, NFL.

    Don't expect it to happen, because Carolina also has major needs at positions like defensive end, offensive tackle and free safety, and the Panthers will have to spend to fill them. But Smith and Moss -- kind of fun to think about, right?

--Stan Olson

Posted by Observer Sports on February 28, 2008 at 11:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (43)

February 27, 2008

Turner unlikely to be a Panther

The Carolina Panthers need a running back. San Diego's Michael Turner, the multi-talented backup to all-pro LaDainian Tomlinson, is available starting Friday in free agency. But this match probably will never happen.

Turner

   Turner's likely to carry a heavy pricetag. The Panthers almost certainly won't get into a bidding war for him. If they're going to spend big money on any player -- and that's a big if -- it's more likely to be for a defensive end.

   There are other running backs available, such as Dallas' Julius Jones. But a wiser move could be to wait for the draft. This is an exceptional year for backs in the draft, well into the second and third rounds. Even though East Carolina's Chris Johnson's ran a blazing 4.24 40-yard dash at the combine, he's likely to go in the second round. If so, the team that chooses him there will get big-time value for their pick. 

-- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on February 27, 2008 at 02:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (59)

February 26, 2008

Stephen Davis' finest games with Panthers

Stephendavis200p     With Carolina allowing running back Stephen Davis to retire as a Panther, here's a list of what may have been his five finest games with the team. If you remember some others, chime in.

    1. Carolina 12, Tampa Bay 9, Sept. 14, 2003: The Panthers won in Tampa, serving notice that they were a force to be reckoned with. Davis scorched the famed Bucs' defense for 141 yards on 33 carries. That included a 10-yard burst that set up John Kasay's winning field goal in OT. Named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

    2. Carolina 23, New Orleans 20, Oct. 26, 2003: Another overtime game, and another win on the road against a division opponent. Davis set a franchise record with 178 rushing yards and a TD on 31 carries. Again named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

    3. Carolina 23, Atlanta 3, Sept. 28, 2003:  In the early days of that Super Bowl season, Davis looked unstoppable. Against the visiting Falcons, he piled up 153 rushing yards on 21 tries, with a touchdown. He also caught four passes for 38 yards as the Panthers steamrolled Atlanta.

    4. Carolina 24, Jacksonville 23, Sept. 7, 2003: Most fans remember that game as the day QB Jake Delhomme replaced Rodney Peete and rallied the Panthers to victory, but Davis made his presence felt in his first game in Panthers' colors, rolling up 111 rushing yards on 22 tries.

    5. Carolina 20, Washington 17, Nov. 16, 2003:  The numbers weren't overwhelming (92 rushing yards on 28 carries), but his timing was. With Carolina trailing 17-13 late in the final quarter, Davis' 25-yard catch-and-run on fourth-and-1 kept a desperation Panthers' drive alive. Then he topped it off with a 3-yard touchdown run, scoring with just 69 seconds left to play.

    Sure, the list is all from 2003. But injuries were to plague Davis after that. And he packed an awful lot of good work into that one magnificent season, leading the team to its only Super Bowl. -- STAN OLSON

Posted by Observer Sports on February 26, 2008 at 02:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)

February 25, 2008

Could Moose accept being No. 3?

    With all the talk about the possibility of Muhsin Muhammad's return to the Panthers, here is something to consider.  While there's no question that Muhammad still believes he can play and can be the guy he was when he played opposite Steve Smith earlier this decade, he will be 35. While Carolina GM Marty Hurney hasn't addressed the issue, it may be that the Panthers are hoping to add Moose as a situational guy, doing the kind of things Ricky Proehl did when he was on the team.

    It also may be that Muhammad doesn't see himself in a situation where his playing time is limited, in a No.3 receiver role.

    If that's the case, it's also likely that some team out there might be willing to pay him more than the veteran's minimum to be their No.2, a possibility that would be good for both Moose's self-image and his
wallet.

    Of course, maybe that team will be the Panthers; I think there is interest on their part. I just don't think there's quite as much as Moose and many of his fans believe. Carolina has add older free agents
go south before.

--Stan Olson

Posted by Observer Sports on February 25, 2008 at 02:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (42)

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