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March 18, 2014

Roman Harper: 'Mind-blowing' that Steve Smith is gone

New Panthers safety Roman Harper was as surprised as anyone when the team cut longtime receiver Steve Smith.

"It's mind-blowing. When you think of the Carolina Panthers, you think of that guy. He's probably been the one constant, consistent player for 10, 12, 13 years," Harper said. "I would love to play with that guy because I know how much he competes. I know how great of a player he is."

Harper, 31, signed his two-year deal with the Panthers on Tuesday after agreeing to terms last weekend.

Harper, who played his first eight seasons in New Orleans and went to two Pro Bowls, is expected to step in at strong safety for a Panthers' defense that ranked No. 2 last season behind Super Bowl-champion Seattle.

"I'm not here to change anything. I'm not here to take over this team. I'm here to add to it," Harper said during a conference call with reporters. "I know it's a great fit for me and my skill set to come over and help on this defense, and they don't need a lot of help."

Harper's 17 sacks since entering the league in 2006 as the Saints' second round pick are the most among defensive backs during that span. He said he talked with Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott about how McDermott likes to get his defensive backs involved in the blitz packages.

Harper made only five starts last season when he missed seven games with a knee injury and started getting phased out in favor of rookie Kenny Vaccaro. But Harper said he played well when he returned to the starting lineup at the end of the season.

"When I'm healthy I play at an extremely high level and I know I can compete and play at a high level in this league," Harper said. "I know I can still do that. I just want to continue to do that until it's time for me to go. And it's not time for me to go, yet."

Harper, who is from Alabama, said he wanted to go to a warm-weather city and play for a winning team.

He is best known among Panthers fans for his late hit on Steve Smith in a game three years ago after Smith slowed down to cross the goal line. Harper was penalized and fined $15,000 for the hit, which caused a fight between several players from both teams.

But Harper said he and Smith had a mutual respect.

"We've had our run-ins but when you play a team twice a year you're going to have those. He will be missed around here I'm sure, even though I've never been his teammate," Harper said. "I know he runs his mouth, but he knows I talk back. So it's been fun."

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on March 18, 2014 at 03:18 PM | Permalink


Longest write up ever on a rather insignificant signing, but can't blame ya Joe. The Panthers haven't given you much to work with this offseason.

Posted by: Ryan C. | Mar 18, 2014 3:40:11 PM

Where did Steve Smith go?

Posted by: Jerry Richardson | Mar 18, 2014 3:46:18 PM

This guy is a blue cheese kind of guy

Posted by: Omar Albayati | Mar 18, 2014 3:49:18 PM

Ryan C - how on EARTH is this an insignificant signing? I HATED Roman Harper when he was a Saint. Gonna be weird cheering for him, but he's a very good safety and has a nasty streak to him. I think the change from Mitchell to Harper will be seamless for this secondary, and Harper comes at a lower price. This is far from insignificant.

Posted by: Keith | Mar 18, 2014 4:13:55 PM

Can anyone interview Cam or Derek Anderson on what they think about the current WR situation? What about Ricky Prohel? This story is very intersting and all we get is new players opnions on how the team will miss departed players. C'Mon. Give us something good to read about. Can the writers not score any interviews or something?

Posted by: Kelly Tripuka | Mar 18, 2014 4:28:03 PM

good question kelly. CO gives us no local angle whatsoever, we might as well skim ESPN for panther news.....

Posted by: tony clifton | Mar 18, 2014 5:02:07 PM

byron bell still not resigned and godfrey not yet restructured.

these are holes in the lineup, too.

don't tell me they'll pay godfrey 7 million off of ACL tear, but not smith.

Posted by: charlottean | Mar 18, 2014 5:10:03 PM

I didnt really like this guy for his late hit on Smith, but he is a football player and seems like he wants to aid the team, and though he may be viewed as sort of an enemy to many fans, i think he brings talent to the secondary considering we have a swiss cheese secondary right now.

Posted by: gman21 | Mar 18, 2014 6:00:58 PM

Fine signing. He sounds exactly like Mike Mitchell...wants to prove something. Those are the people you want on your football team. Plus insights into Rob Ryan's schemes and even Payton's...so not too shabby.

Posted by: Joshua David La Russa | Mar 18, 2014 7:20:34 PM

Godfrey is a ball hawk with great tackling ability and was one of our top three players defensively when he got hurt, that being said, I think restructure or release

Posted by: Jarrod | Mar 18, 2014 8:05:02 PM

Harper was a great move at that price

Posted by: Jarrod | Mar 18, 2014 8:06:04 PM

Love Godfrey but he needs to restructure or get released we did it last year with out him he got hurt the buffalo game? Or the week after but don't pay this guy 7 mil not that he doesn't deserve it, but because we don't need to pay him that much. I like Robert Lester...... And roman Harper... Secondary is young but we will be ok especially cause I think aj Klein will start over chase. That duo is gonna be good. And d line is exact same. I felt last year our O lacked weapons with smitty. And we def haven't done anythig to make it better. Anyone member the Atlanta game when smitty didn't play our receivers didn't do a damn thing. Gettleman must have something up his sleeve or at least I hope so. An d Stewart needs
To restructure

Posted by: Reggie | Mar 18, 2014 8:13:54 PM

Running quarterback with bad ankles, not good. Maybe we can get a real quarterback with the #1 pick in the 2015 draft, since Gettleman blew up the team and we're going to lose bad next year.

Posted by: FU mike shula | Mar 18, 2014 8:44:30 PM

Release the Kraken!!!

Posted by: The Kraken | Mar 18, 2014 9:41:45 PM

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