The Carolina Panthers lost several free agents after their 12-4 2013 season. They lost Steve Smith, they lost Brandon LaFell, they lost Captain Munnerlyn, they lost Mike Mitchell and they lost Ted Ginn Jr.
A source said at the time that the loss that hurt most was Ginn.
Ginn went to Arizona, played one season and was jettisoned. As Joe Person reported, the Panthers were expected to sign him Monday.
Ginn was a temp in the desert. Even though he played only one season in Carolina, he appeared to dig in. He dug out when the Cardinals flung money at him. The Panthers were still paying down their credit card debt, still working to get out of salary cap jail, and they reluctantly chose not to match.
But Ginn fit here. Smith took him in, talked about how he hoped Ginn's family found a home in Charlotte.
Ginn, 29, was a fine compliment to Smith and tight end Greg Olsen. When you saw Cam Newton rear back, step into his throw and launch the ball, you know where it was going. Ginn was the designated deep threat. He averaged 15.4 yards a catch and caught five touchdown passes. Smith and Olsen attracted enough attention that Ginn could go off by himself and stretch a defense.
Ginn ran a 4.2 40 as a senior at Glenville high in Cleveland. To better understand and exploit his speed, he ran track. By the time he finished, he understood form and he understood how to breathe. He's 5-11 but runs taller. His stride is smooth, his acceleration immediate.
Ginn also returns punts. He did for Carolina. And every time an opponent's punt was in the air, there was the possibility that something remarkable could happen. When Ginn was back there, you never went to the kitchen or the concession stand.
Was last season an aberration for Ginn or was his season with the Panthers? Before he came to Carolina he played three nondescript seasons for San Francisco.
Yet we've seen athletes who fit some systems and cities and not others. I like who Ginn is and what he offers, and I believe he fits here.