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Monday, August 5, 2013

Gross' Future

Jordan Gross' week has had its ups and downs, most notably losing his
good friend Geoff Hangartner (as the prior number of posts attests,
Hangartner was cut Thursday).

Not unlike most Panthers players, Gross is expendable next year. The
difference is it's already written into his contract.

He restructured in the offseason, adding numerous dummy years to his
contract that spread out a cap hit, but that also voids after this
season. That weighing on his mind along with his age (33) and tenure
(11 seasons), Gross made his intentions clear - while he's not sure if
he'll play past this year, he won't play for another team but Carolina.

I believe, if he can play, he should. For one, Carolina could easily
add a season to his contract, and keep it from voiding (or at least
postpone it). The void years do, however, provide protection for Gross
- if it voids and he then retires, he doesn't have to return any money.
All of this '14 talk does, of course, have to bear weight on how he
does this year, too.

It's not yet time for Gross to retire, but it's worth considering some
reflection. A multiple Pro Bowler, Gross' first three years provided
good immediate play and two deep playoff berths. I wasn't in favor of
drafting Gross in 2003 - for full disclosure I preferred Quentin Jammer
to boost the defense or Byron Leftwich for the deep arm (Leftwich didn't
last anyway). I never thought Gross was dominant. But in the end, he
was the best of those picks, and he's been a near-model of player.

When you read someone going on about how some rookie who's never been
on a pro field is going to be a decade-long player, that's the sort of
stuff I dismiss. It's silly speculation. But, then again, all of this
is. For me to look at what I thought of Gross 11 years and change ago,
it makes sense to see that guy be a loyal, able player with a long
career. The rest of it is still to be written, but it's almost the end.

A few other Panther team leaders have only played for Carolina. Mike
Rucker, Mike Minter as the standards for the team, both played to the
end of their usefulness and retired (Minter somewhat abruptly, in camp).
Both situations, in my mind, felt like they were aided by Jerry
Richardson, but I really can't source that. It's not surprising that
Gross joins them.
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