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Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Future at LB

2010 is still a year away with 2009 technically yet to start. The LBs are firmly entrenched for this year, but things will be in flux next year when WLBs Thomas Davis and James Anderson become free agents.

The team should look to extend Davis, and Davis should have a good year in the new, more open speed scheme - but with the pending Julius Peppers issue, would they have the money? Davis won't take priority over Peppers, and the team has shown for two years they'll spend as lightly as possible in the event a deal with Peppers is possible.

Anderson, who costs roughly $1.5 million coming into camp, was a restricted free agent, so he's only signed through this year. Having played in only 8 games last year, and no starts (both career lows), Anderson may not make it out of camp at his current price. The one thing that may save him? The threat of losing Davis. As a theoretical four year understudy, Anderson isn't a playmaker, but is a solid coverage LB and an average player if required to start. In a pinch, Anderson could be good enough to start and mentor a young 3rd or 4th round LB from the draft - and Ron Meeks hasn't been able to handpick a LB for his defense yet.

If either or both are retained, it may be the end of the line for Landon Johnson: Johnson is unofficially a backup at all three spots, but Dan Connor is the backup MLB. Anderson is the backup for WLB. If Na'il Diggs stays in a starting spot, would the team keep Johnson as a backup to any of these spots?

Carolina bypassed linebacker in the 2009 draft for the first time since 2003. It was a well deserved break, including two first rounders since 2005 and a 3rd in 2008 and 2006; but the team may need to go to that well again next year to add youth.
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