The signing of free-agent cornerback D.J. Moore means cornerback Captain Munnerlyn is unlikely to remain with the Carolina Panthers, and that's unfortunate.
Munnerlyn, a free agent for the first time, was never supposed to be a starter, and he probably wasn't supposed to make the roster. He was a seventh-round pick in the 2009 draft. At 5-8, he's undersized. He was never a great cover corner.
But, man, did he play hard. At training camp last summer Carolina coach Ron Rivera compared him to Steve Smith. He was small but under no circumstances would he be pushed around.
Munnerlyn, who is from Mobile, Ala., and played at South Carolina,went hard -- in camp, in practice, in games. Once he had his hands on a football, and a little momentum, he was tough to stop. He returned three interceptions for touchdowns, second all-time on the Panthers to former safety Mike Minte, who had four.
A source told the Observer's Joe Person that Munnerlyn turned down a three-year $5 million offer from the Panthers.
He was like a permanent NCAA bubble team. Every season the Panthers brought in a new corner presumably to replace Munnerlyn and Munnerlyn outlasted them -- until, presumably, now.
One quaility I admire about Munnerlyn is that no matter how tough the loss, or how severely the media criticized him, Munnerlyn never hid. Of course he took losses hard, and he might have taken criticism hard, too. Athletes tend to. So do the rest of us.
But he was always gracious, always accountable and always had something to say.
And as the South Carolina-Clemson game approached, he was a one-man Gamecock Nation.
If Munnerlyn is gone, I hope its to a team where he can compete for a job as a starter.