Carolina cut ties with yet another veteran today, this one their second longest tenured veteran. Brad Hoover, who has never played for a football team outside the state of North Carolina (though neither had Julius Peppers, until now), was released after ten seasons.
The WCU and Ledford High star played ten hard years for Carolina, finishing 6th career in receiving and 9th rushing. Having become a fullback for John Fox in 2002, Hoover epitomized the team's hard-working mentality and run-based philosophy.
However, back problems took him out of five games, and in two more saw limited action. Hoover was still an exceptional blocker, and solid skill player, but a player at 33 with a bad back whose job is to flail his body into players larger than himself? That player probably isn't going to become more reliable.
It sucks, because Hoover is an every-man player who's relatable to fans. He's a guy who, despite his talents, is felt to have been considered a guy who got lucky and made it onto the hometown team. For the team, he was a battering ram who came alive with the Jeff Davidson offense, around the time the team really started running well. He was a leader on offense and special teams.
Just like most of the other cuts, there's a replacement on hand. Tony Fiammetta, a 4th rounder last year, did get experience blocking in games Hoover was out. The team, despite Hoover's late resurgence, used more 2 TE than 2 RB sets in the last couple years, and that shouldn't change.
Still, it will be hard to replace what Hoover meant to the team. There's probably not a statue in his future, but it'd be nice to see Hoover on the wall of honor. That also won't likely happen, but ten years' service in the first fifteen years of existence is worth honoring.