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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Cheap Depth Continues to Dominate Free Agency

The team has recently added yet more defensive depth with experience: CB Curtis Deloatch, a former Giant, DT Chad Lavalais, a three-year Falcon, and S Deke Cooper, a former Panther and Jaguar. All three have starting experience in their young careers but have lost favor with their current teams.

Cooper will likely fight for a 4th safety spot with Nate Salley. Cooper walked on from Notre Dame as a backup free safety and played for Carolina in 2002 before going with Jack Del Rio and Al Reynolds to jacksonville, where he started in place of injured Donovin Darius.

Deloatch, undrafted from NC A&T, walked on with the Giants under DC Tim Lewis (now DBs coach with Carolina) in 2004, playing all 16 games, before starting 13 in 2005. Waived in camp in 2006, Deloatch played for the Saints and scored a touchdown returning a blocked punt. Between Deloatch, Derrick Strait, and Garnel Wilds, the team has enough competition to play for the 4th CB spot.

Carolina needs a punt returner, and the 4th CB slot is a potential place for that role, but the team could also add that role at the 4th WR slot currently taken up by Keary Colbert.

Lavalais (6'1, 295) was a 5th round pick out of LSU (2004), and started 6 games that year before starting all of 2005. Lavalais' role was relieving injured starters, and the team felt they needed better depth at DT. In Carolina, he'll fight for the 5th DT spot, which isn't a guarantee for a roster spot. It does give the team injury depth, a guy the team can call midseason to return to the team if he doesn't make the roster.

The team signed DE Dave Ball, DT Stephen Williams, LB Terrence Melton in the past few weeks, looking to gain experience in the deeper spots of the defensive roster. This won't keep the team from drafting defense, with major needs still present, but will keep the team from having to go completely defense and allow Day 2 of the draft to be a way of cultivating competition.

The team still has up to two needs at safety, an unresolved need behind Dan Morgan at MLB (essentially a starting spot), and needs depth and future ability at DE. These moves, however, ensure some amount of veteran depth along a very solid defense.

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