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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Week in Review

Due to illness, I haven't updated, but not for lack of news: in the last week, the aftermath of huge free agent contracts has continued to set a chasm between the "haves" and the "have-nots" - though in many cases the abstaining teams are by choice. With theoretical targets like Daniel Graham getting $15 million in guarantees, and $30 million overall over five years, the market's out of control. Graham has been an oft-injured, part-time starter the last few years, and while a good player, not on the elite scale of an Antonio Gates, a player who now makes less than Graham.

And now with Graham, Tony Stewart, Eric Johnson, recently released Randy McMichael, and Kyle Brady signed, there isn't much left at the position.

Deon Grant, the former Panther whose departure has left a hole in the team's secondary for the greater portion of the time since, has set the market for safeties this year with a 6 year, $30 million deal that Ken Hamlin, still on the market, is expected to eclipse. Terrence Holt has signed with Arizona, and Kevin Kaesviharn is talking to New Orleans and Cleveland, narrowing the availability of veterans at the position.

Over 20% of available free agents have already signed, and most of them to deals that are well above market - consider Leonard Davis. A former "sure-thing" OT, the behemoth from Texas was a shoe-in and "safe pick" for Arizona but hasn't performed well; after giving up 8 sacks for the Cardinals last year, Davis got $50 million over 7 years because Eric Steinbach and Derrick Dockery had already inked deals worth $49 and $49.5 million each. All of this came because of perennial All-Pro Steve Hutchinson's 7 year, $49 million contract last year; Hutchinson was considered the best guard in football, and the three big guards this year have never been given accolades at this level at all.

It's reasonable to see the Panthers not making moves - it's almost re-assuring. But the team needs to come to terms with the idea of doing something - anything. Improve the team, because attrition alone will be hard to overcome.
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