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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Links to players, but little movement

The recent addition of DE David Ball (5th round pick, 2004), LB Terrence Melton (former Saints special teamer) and DT Stephen Williams (Chiefs) were yawners, but there may be some solid depth in the trio.

Williams (6'2, 305) played off and on with the Chiefs this past season, and worked on their practice squad as well, in his inaugural season after playing for NE Missouri State and Indiana. Williams would fight for the 5th DT spot, if the team carried a player there (the team started with 6 DTs before cutting Tony Brown early in the season). It's not expected he would beat out the top 4 players returning, however.

Melton (6'1, 235), an inside linebacker, is a 3 year vet with some special teams experience; he also had a penchant for mistakes and penalties. Melton's at a position that's in need of something more substantive; whether the team does make a move at MLB is harder to say, based on what they think of Adam Seward (both positionally and quantitatively) and what happens in the draft, deep on MLBs.

Ball will most likely make the team - whether as a 4th end or 5th, depends on what they do at end from here. Ball doesn't add a starter, but hasn't played in a 4-3 in his four years in the NFL. As a star at UCLA, Ball racked up 13.5 sacks as a senior, in that defense; since, taking up space in a 3-4, Ball hasn't flourished. As a rotational player, the team could use Ball to spell Mike Rucker; he probably brings more solid play against the run than Stanley McClover as well. Whether the team adds to end likely depends on what's there, but keeps them from having to force a pick there early (or late) if the right guy's not available.

In the last week, Chris Draft signed with the Rams, to back up Will Witherspoon. The move left Draft continuing to complain over his lack of attention from Carolina. Meanwhile, Mike Minter's restructure did two things - delay the inevitable cap hit, which will keep him from retiring (the cap charge would be toward money he'd need to repay if retired), and free up money for now. Carolina has $9.5 million to spend, of which draft picks would take up about half; as of yet the three above signings are the extent of Carolina's free agency period.

TE Doug Jolley hasn't signed anywhere; Carolina contingency plans Shaun Williams (S) and Al Wallace (DE) haven't either.

One more possible signing involves former Dolphins DE David Bowens. Not a starter since 2004, Bowens would move Rucker to a starting role that would mainly involve playing the run; the 6'3, 265 lb end is being courted heavily by the Jets, has received interest in staying with the Dolphins, and has also been courted by the Patriots. Don't expect a signing, but the move would finally cross DE off the draft list and give the team stability no matter what happens with Rucker's injury or 2008 free agent status.
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