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Monday, March 22, 2010

2010 Compensatory Picks

Carolina was awarded two 6th round picks (202, 204) and a 7th rounder (249) in compensation for 2009 free agent losses, the league announced today.

The two sixth rounders add to the Oakland draft pick to give the team three picks in the round. Carolina lacks a pick in the 5th, and their original 6th, in trades for Louis Leonard and Tank Tyler. Still, the high 6 from Oakland offsets the 5 to a point, and the later sixes give the team full coverage.

The question is, of course, how they'll fit three more tight ends on the roster.

But, seriously, the team can use these later picks to bolster special teams, including possibly drafting a big-legged kicker for kickoffs and as an heir apparent to John Kasay, and a couple of special teams aces to back linebacker and safety.

It also gives them the ability to stockpile at a position or two - a pair of fast WR if they didn't find value in rounds 2-4 - or a pair of young arms to fight for a 3rd QB spot.

I've stated here many times that I believe they're continuing to work toward compensatory picks for 2011 - which includes a net loss of free agents, and of course losing Julius Peppers.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Three new Panthers, one of them actually new

Have been sick, sorry for the delay.

Tyler Brayton was brought back Wednesday, sign to a three year deal without contract numbers. Brayton had been a two year starter, becoming a blue collar starter compared to the

Brayton has a higher pedigree than any other player on the Panthers' current DL, being a former first round pick. Julius Peppers (2nd overall) and Damione Lewis (12th overall) are no longer Panthers. He's also the only defender on staff that's above 30 years old. Brayton had teamed with Charles Johnson to fill in the left side of the defensive line, and each had played inside on passing downs at different times. However, the team may see fit to have Johnson start opposite Brayton, with Everette Brown supplanting on passing downs.

The team also announced the signing of Marcus Hudson, a former cornerback and safety for the San Francisco 49ers. An NC State grad, Hudson has been a standout special teamer but isn't an upgrade at cornerback. He most likely fits as a gunner on special teams along with Wallace Wright. Hudson played for four years as a 49er, and amassed 57 special teams tackles; he would've been an unrestricted free agent,

Hudson has a website and bio at:

Rob Petitti, a reserve lineman with the Panthers once Jeff Otah went out on injured reserve, was a Panther for three games at the end of the year. The 6'6, 327 lb right tackle is a good fit for the backup RT job, where they do already have Geoff Schwartz.

It's uncertain whether Schwartz will battle for the open right tackle job, but Petitti gives solid insurance for the new-look RT, in place since drafting Otah and Schwartz in 2008 when they moved Jordan Gross to the left side and put a great deal more power on the strong side.

Petitti, Wright, and Hudson comprise the greater part of the 2010 free agency push for the Panthers, and all three of them were un-tendered free agents. Brayton's re-signing was ideal for the team, but also allowed them to not have to sign a free agent at the position like Marques Douglas. The team won't spend big on free agents, but signing others' free agents at any price changes the compensatory profile for after the season.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Quick Funny/Useless Blurb, and Quinn

from twitter:
VeryFakeAlDavis Thought it was strange when Bobby Beatherd sent two 1s, a 2, and Eric Metcalf to the Washington Times for Marty Hurney back in '88.

guy's a funny read year-round, wasn't expecting to read this one though.

Anyway, the Charlotte Observer is officially denouncing the Brady Quinn rumor. Luckily, that seems to have died down quickly, which is for the best.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Delhomme Is A Brown; Quinn Trade?

Jake Delhomme has signed a two year deal with the Browns, apparently bypassing a visit with the hometown Saints.

Coming with that is the inevitable journey around Brady Quinn: Mike Holmgren has already said that he'd probably jettison the former first rounder if he got another quarterback (he added Delhomme to former Seahawk Seneca Wallace).

Now, Bill Voth, a sports anchor local to Charlotte, has tweeted Carolina's interest in Quinn.

Initially, the idea of a veteran QB that has a $700k salary, and was wanted by the staff (in rumor, at least) within the draft process, sounds like a great idea. Compounded by that is the history with QBs coach Rip Scherer and OC Jeff Davidson.

Just to deviate from standard protocol here, let's go over how many ways this is terrible:
*paying someone else's first round pick money for a guy not worth first round pick money
*we don't have that many draft picks
*well-known but only mildly successful backup QBs are ten tons of distraction, and Matt Moore doesn't need the distraction, nor does the team
*all of the same positives of Quinn come in the Derek Anderson package, who's free without any trade, and at a contract you yourself can negotiate

So, given the differences between problems, why would a trade for Quinn make more sense than Anderson? Other than the potential idea of having to pay Anderson more (the going rate for backups is, in fact, more than $700k), the downside is much greater than the upside.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Kudos to Scouts; Kemoeatu Signs with WAS

"Whoever scouts offensive linemen for the Panthers has done a really good job. They have one of the best offensive lines in football, and some of the young guys they are grooming can play. I don't know where they found Mackenzy Bernadeau, but the guy played well. He has a lot of upside. Geoff Schwartz needs to get stronger, but he did a solid job. If you have a good line, you have a chance."

Good to see that. Credit to Dave Magazu as well.

Kemo Signs

Maake Kemoeatu signed a 2 year, 7 million deal with the Washington Redskins today. The former Panther didn't expect to sign a deal so soon, but gets to continue his rehab with Washington.

He's the third former Panther to sign this off-season, but since he was cut he doesn't count against the compensatory count.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Brad Hoover Released

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.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Compensatory Picks In Sight?

Carolina's decision to let franchise player Julius Peppers and their propensity to not sign free agents outside their team may net a 2011 3rd round pick.

For compensation to be possible, a few things need to be in place:
*the team must have a net loss in free agents, regardless of cuts, RFAs, trades.
*the team must lose player(s) for a high contract value
*that player needs to be successful with the new team

These are essentially subjective, other than the net loss. It seems to be an arbitrary process, honestly. But there's no doubting that Peppers has gone, or that he got a hefty salary. So, now all they have to do is keep a net loss of players.

And despite so many cuts, don't expect Carolina to make big signings. As of now, with the team having lost Peppers and backup QB AJ Feeley, they have a net loss. They may wait on players like Keydrick Vincent, and even Muhsin Muhammad, to make sure they keep that net loss.

So, as they lose a third guy, they might sign two.

They can still field a team of strength and value, stay to their core beliefs, and gain a third round pick in 2011. It's not ideal, it's not a reason to let Peppers go, but if that's not in question, benlefitting from it in the future is a plus.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dansby's Deal Fodder for Beason?

Former Cardinals Franchise player Karlos Dansby signed with Miami, a 5-year, $43 million deal, including $22 million guaranteed. At $8.6 million a year, it will most likely be to Beason what Antonio Pierce's contract was to Dan Morgan - a searchlight contract to negotiate with.

Dansby's been a more dynamic, well known player than Beason or Thomas Davis, but is similarly talented to the pair. Davis is expected to get less, having not been a Pro Bowler, and Beason immediately took over as team leader from Dan Morgan (a job he won't relinquish if Jerry Richardson has a say). Dansby's two franchise tags inflate his value a bit, however.

Peppers to Chicago

One of the first things, and most consistent thoughts, in this blog since inception has been keeping Julius Peppers, and that's now out of the question, officially.

Signing with Chicago, Peppers reportedly received $42 million over the first three years, a 6 year deal totaling around $14 million per year.

Kemoeatu, Diggs, Johnson Cut

On the heels of other cuts, Maake Kemoeatu, Landon Johnson, and Nail Diggs were cut today, announced officially with the other cuts.

The move pares away two more starters, which including free agents now includes the entire defensive line and stands at a total of five - roughly half the defense (including restricted free agents, seven).

Johnson made sense from a fiscal standpoint. In the last year of a three year deal, Johnson never started long term and failed as a replacement for an injured Thomas Davis. James Anderson was solid in the role, and probably gets more playing time now. Johnson also didn't play special teams all that well, and made a lot of money to be a backup at what's essentially a cheap role.

Diggs, however, did everything we needed him to do, and held off a lot of challengers (including both Anderson and Johnson). He came in with an injury stigma, but was able to play in all but 3 games over four years. He was essentially a starter for each of those games, though didn't receive a start in 15 of the 61 games when we started in the nickel defense. But at 31, and again reaching a high point in a contract, Diggs was let go.

Kemoeatu was a more special case, after having heard the virtues of his presence (mostly after he was gone) all year. The bottom line? He never fit our defense, he's over 30, he was paid like an every down lineman but was a run specialist, and he was coming off the most severe injury you can get for a big player. He could've been dominant if he'd have stayed down and gotten leverage, but he simply took up space.

If the team wants a cheap version of him, they can go get Hollis Thomas short term, but chances are we'll choose to go with players that fit our scheme better.

All of these roles filled by these players have been filled with youth. For Kemoeatu, you have Leonard; for Lewis you have Tyler and Irvin. For Diggs you have Anderson and Dan Connor. For Delhomme, Moore.

Doesn't always make it easier, especially for the guys like Diggs and Delhomme that never let up.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Who's Next?

After the somewhat surprising Delhomme and Lewis cuts, there's the feeling more will happen. So, who?

John Kasay? He's entering year three of a deal signed in 2008, they were reluctant to use him from outside of 50 yards late in the season, and they cut his kickoff guy. Could there be a Mike Rucker type meeting with Jerry Richardson in his future?

Maake Kemoeatu? He's got a similar contract to Lewis', though possibly less severe. They have time to see how his rehab is going, possibly.

Steve Smith?
Just kidding.

After that, almost all of the aging Panthers are free agents.

Delhomme, Lewis Cut: Crazy Day Ahead

Damione Lewis, who was set to make $9 million after the Panthers declined to pay a bonus written in last year, was cut today, leaving the defense much younger at defensive line. With the move, the team's starting DL is a free agent - if you include Hollis Thomas.

Later this evening, they dropped a second shocker, cutting Jake Delhomme, their embattled former Pro Bowl quarterback. With Delhomme out of the way, Matt Moore clearly has the inside line on the starting job, probably fighting off a potentially re-signed Josh McCown or equivalent.

Making use of the uncut year as a blank slate, the Panthers may not be done dumping salary, either. They may very well dump more, and field a very young team.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Panthers Took Last Stab at Peppers

Julius Peppers received offers last year mid-summer from the Panthers to stay, supposedly ranging in the $13-14 million range, which isn't unexpected. However, the Panthers apparently did take one more stab at Peppers before letting him walk by not placing a contract tender on him.

That contract was expected to be in the $14 million range, with more bonus money up-front than before. That deal is short of the Albert Haynesworth deal, a deal largely considered a 4 year deal with tons of dummy money on the back end.

Peppers hits free agency this Friday.

Analysing the RFA tenders

Thomas Davis received a first and third round tender. It's highly unlikely anyone will give Carolina that much, or a deal that would wrest him away. They'll likely keep him with a long term deal if they can get one done.

Matt Moore received a first and third round tender. Like Davis, it's almost impossible that anyone would sign him away for that. Will they keep him long term? Will he start? They've shown a short term commitment to him. That's as far as it goes.

Richard Marshall was given a second round tender. It's low for his value - he may get signed away for that. The Panthers have been rumored to value Marshall greatly - but not as much as Marshall or his agent does. Is this a message sent to Marshall? Coincidentally, while Chris Gamble was good, Marshall was better in 2009. But with Sherrod Martin, CJ Wilson, and Captain Munnerlyn possibly behind him, can he be worth this much? With Gamble having been paid, is Marshall in the budget?

Jeff King was given a second round tender. He could've been given a 5th round tender, but they upped him for the second straight year (he received this tender in 2009). They want him, but if he's kept longer he won't be paid a large amount.

Louis Leonard was given a second round tender. He plays into their rotation at DT, and has to earn more. He was promising in limited time, though. He has a great first step, gets into his man low, and may have been wasted as a 3-4 end.

Three players received original tenders (compensation is their original draft pick round):

James Anderson received a 3rd round tender, as a former 3rd round pick. Anderson looked good in preseason and serviceable in-season at WLB.

Tank Tyler received a 3rd round tender. The mid-season trade at DT looked good and played in relief of Damione Lewis, and occasionally next to him on passing downs instead of Charles Johnson. Like Leonard, he's got a likely spot in the rotation at DT.

CJ Wilson received a 7th round tender. The under-rated Wilson was our third best corner in preseason, but barely got a jersey at all in 2009. He sat while Captain Munnerlyn played nickel and Dante Wesley played special teams. Will Wesley be back? If not, Wilson may be the nickel and Munnerlyn may lose one of his jobs.

The team also had 4 Exclusive Rights FAs that were tendered:

Jordan Senn, LB - a killer special teams player picked up in the middle of the year

Nick Hayden - entering his third year at DT, Hayden's got a good first step and came in strong, but lost a lot of weight to move to under tackle and started slow.

Kenny Moore - surprise WR of the year. Moore stole time from Dwayne Jarrett last year, better than most surprise WRs of the year.

Charly Martin - another surprise at WR, Martin actually played more than Moore late in the season. The Colts had Austin Collie. The Patriots had Julian Edelman. We had Charly Martin, who had one reception and blocked a lot.

Un-tendered (and therefore free agents):

Rhys Lloyd - kicker who kicked off plenty, and very well in 2008; he dropped off a bit in 2009, and never took a place kick. Maybe should've. Could still stay, maybe they've seen enough.

Rob Petitti - RT who they brought in for a look late in the year. He excelled in the UFL, and bringing him in for camp would be smart, but maybe at a smaller price. If they don't, Geoff Schwartz is the obvious RT backup (which he was anyway), but that would keep him from having a shot at RG.

Quentin Teal - was able to play some at safety this year; he played a lot at special teams. Wasn't great at either. They were expected to bring in a good sized but rangy SS to play special teams; maybe now they need two.

Overall thoughts on the moves:

They probably won't make a move at DT this year. They'll go in with Kemoeatu, Lewis, Leonard, Tyler, Hayden, and second year Corvey Irvin.

They don't have a future at DT if neither Leonard nor Tyler work out. Both are free agents again next year. Lewis is 32, Kemoeatu 31. Leonard or Tyler (or both) working out and staying would be a big deal. If Leonard and Tyler don't work out, there's probably room for relief, but the team would be a year behind.

If Davis and/or Anderson don't stay past the 2010 season, there's no future at WLB either. In addition, if Landon Johnson doesn't get cut before then, he's out after the year end too.

Senn being on roster and Lloyd not? That's a sign they may want to go more traditionally with special teams - load with coverage players instead of specialists.

If Lloyd's gone, there's always the concern that John Kasay will take a meeting with Jerry Richardson very soon, and that suddenly Richardson will ask him to willingly go to pasture not unlike he did to Mike Rucker.