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Friday, February 28, 2014

Graham Gano Signs

Carolina has inked placekicker Graham Gano to a 4 year, $12.4 million
deal.

The first signing of the 2014 season, Gano's signing ensures stability
on special teams, where he was a top notch kicker with long range, and
one of the best on kickoffs. A 2009 undrafted, Gano was a midseason
2012 pickup who found his consistency in 2013.

The $3.1 million a year average puts Gano 9th in the league in average
payment.

So - and this is said without sarcasm, a rare event so you may want to
enjoy it - at least Carolina has special teams wrapped up for a while.
They have all but a full rebuild to do at 4 OL spots, up to 4 DB spots,
at least two of the top 3 WR spots just to have a shot at getting back
to where they were, along with a massive deal to give out to Cam Newton
and possibly Greg Hardy (and if not, replacing him).

Thanks, Jordan

Much as I'd prefer it not to happen, Jordan Gross is retired (and trim -
he's lost a lot of weight, quickly).

I'm happy for him personally, but the team will suffer a bit for it.

I'm thankful for him, for what he provided. I've said it before, that
at the time he wasn't who I wanted to draft. It was a conservative
choice for a too-conservative team, not enough impact (and, at the time
he was essentially a RT being drafted with a top ten pick). I remember
hearing about how "this is a guy you plug in for the next decade", and
while I figured he'd have a good, steady career, I discounted that
ideal. You never know what the future holds.

Now that it's over, hindsight affords you the ability to see the value
in having a really good offensive tackle for eleven years, and hoping
you get a twelfth. He leaves the team its all time leader in starts,
and there's a massive value in that. As he leaves football in his rear
view mirror, he becomes a part of the team's history, their lore.

I won't speculate on nutty nonsense like Gross being added to any
honorary spot inside or outside their stadium, but if they choose it,
it's not a bad choice. It's hard to look at the team and see many guys
who were both successful and career Panthers (Mike Rucker, Mike Minter,
and essentially little else), who were around this long.


I hear Travelle Wharton is considering retiring - another 30+ year old
lineman who gave us a ton of good years, I don't know if Carolina wanted
him back as much as they did Gross. Wharton, Gross, and Geogg
Hangartner were stalwarts for years here, a part of some good teams
(Hangartner got to skip the really lean years, and got paid to fail in
Buffalo, of course). I'd like Wharton back either way - but I can see
that a vet that costs $1 million or more might not be as ideal with the
cap situation (otherwise, it's 100% a bargain).

Essentially, the OL is Ryan Kalil and hand-me-downs - the "other"
consistently playing lineman over that period that's left is Byron Bell.
That Ron Rivera and Gross both suggested Bell could play left tackle
gives you pause, but I don't know that the team would do that without
significantly pushing Bell with a very talented rookie. Of course, the
idea of honoring Gross and simultaneously standing over the corpse of
his career talking about his replacement might be in bad taste, but time
moves on. And so does Carolina.

They just have a lot more work ahead of them to get this line together.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cap Space: A Battle Ground

As usual, no one knows where Carolina sits, regarding the salary cap.

The knowns: they saved about $7.25 million on restructures for Davis,
Kalil. There's at least $2 million on top of that, from a cap
adjustment that appears to have it sitting at $132 million instead of
$130.

But with that, there's a couple of factions in this deal. Some of the
media is following overthecap.com and saying that the Panthers are
sitting at $20 million, not $30 (adjusted upward from the $28 million
earlier).

I don't think they know. And while OverTheCap does independent analysis,
and therefore their work might be more traceable than espn.com's, it's
also unlikely that they've accounted for anything that the Panthers will
carry from 2013 in cap space.

So it might be that both sides are individually talking the same thing,
to a point. They might "currently" have less than ESPN says because
they haven't carried over any money. But they're expected to do so.


So, they may as well be shooting at numbers at a dart board at this
point. But, Carolina, at minimum, has roughly $9.25 million more than
they had at the start of the week, and if they make a move soon on
Charles Godfrey, will increase that between $2.1 and $5.1 million.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Gross To Retire, Cap Space Added

Jordan Gross will retire from football Wednesday, in a move that hurts
Carolina a good deal.

I'll try to go over the Gross move a bit more tomorrow, but in the
meantime, he's a loss as a leader and had one of his best years last
year.



Thomas Davis' restructure/option was redone to add three voidable
years. It puts an "end date" on his contract through 2015, and he'll
get paid $13.5 million for those two years. What the voidable years add
is somewhat minimal, other than cap relief. Davis gets $5 million to
sign, but it's spread through 2014-2018. When 2016 comes along, the
final three years all count at once ($3 million). It's like Davis is a
planned cut that isn't a cut, and it's not unlike what happened with
Gross (who the team certainly wishes was under contract right now, if
he'd play) or Deangelo Williams.

That move saves $3.25 million. It also gives Davis a good two year
paycheck, and it's well earned. At the end of that contract, Davis
would be 32 and have 12 years experience (is that right? I forget Davis
was that young).

Ryan Kalil and Jonathan Stewart were both restructured. Kalil's was a
simple conversion of salary to bonus. It saved $3.1 million. Stewart's
salary was reduced by $715,000, but the Charlotte Observer's sources
don't suggest whether anything changed around that (it's not that likely
they moved much around, but it's hard to say whether Stewart just
outright took a cut, either).

The latest ESPN report puts the Panthers at $28 million under. They do
have 21 free agents to deal with, but at the minimum, it allows them to
choose to franchise tag Greg Hardy, if they wanted to do so. It
definitely creates room if they wanted to sign Cam Newton to a long
extension as wanted (which will cost upwards of $15 million, and if I
had to guess around $17-18 million, per year). Maybe not both, and I
still wouldn't expect a ton of big name free agents, either.

But, Carolina has options. They still have savings from Charles Godfrey
left to deal with - whether they talk him into an outright pay cut or
cut him, he's definitely not playing at a $7.1 million cap figure.

They'll also need some of that space to deal with Gross' absence, and
fully retool that offensive line finally.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cap Isn't Flat for '14

Adam Schefter and other reports show the NFL salary cap rising by 5% to $130 million, adding roughly $7 million to the spending limit.

That significantly impacts Carolina, who overthecap.com showed at $8.7 million but that ESPN had shown at much more (I'm not certain if OTC was accounting for the potential carryover from last year).  ESPN had Carolina as potentially $15 million under, though the discrepancy isn't fully resolved by the carryover (estimated at $6 million).

The $15 million ESPN quoted suggested an eventual $28 million to play with, though David Newton doesn't show his work on that one.  I'd have to assume that includes some cuts, obviously including Charles Godfrey.  I wouldn't worry as hard about the $28 million, but that $15 million - if true - becomes $17 million with the adjustment from an assumed $128 million cap to its expected space.

Regardless of what the amount is - and trust me, media in general won't get their combined story straight - this is good news.  The interesting end, since I can't call it bad news necessarily, will be to see how much of that surplus Dave Gettleman uses to get out of the future cap hell he professes.   Gettleman is claiming it's going to be a two year process, and I can only hope his intent is that this is one of those two years.

So, it's become a balance issue on Mint Street.  With some playoff success under their belts, a lot of the principal characters aren't working for their jobs right now.  There's potentially as much urgency to build sustained success as there would be to concentrate on 2014.

What might that mean?

Sacrifice.

Godfrey, for instance, might end up a straight cut ($2.1 million savings) instead of a June cut ($5.1 million), which in turn makes 2015 $3 million more manageable.  There's still a strategy that suggests the June cut instead (you have money available, but you don't have to use it - you can carry it over).

You could also do something drastic, like chop someone you didn't expect to be able to afford cutting.  Or you could pretend you can now afford to give Greg Hardy what he wants.

All 32 teams get this additional space, obviously, so maybe you lose an additional free agent to a windfall in Jacksonville, for instance.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Patience

I know it's easy to get into the free agency process. I like it, too.
Know this, however. It leads to heartbreak if you let it.

Carolina's not going to move quickly. Not with guys outside the
program, not with guys from last year.

It's frustrating to listen to Captain Munnerlyn talk about not hearing
from them. I don't know if it's a mindgame, but contact right now
wouldn't 'mean' anything real either. Carolina's probably going to sign
its first few contracts a week or two into the process.

Are they losing out on anything? Sure, in a way. Carolina can talk
contract with Munnerlyn, Greg Hardy, whoever. If they found a
reasonable deal with one or more of their existing free agents, they'd
better know where they stood for the rest of the cutdown/cooldown period
before free agency hits.

But, comparatively, Dave Gettleman has shown no affinity for sentiment.
Is Munnerlyn, a South Carolina grad with 5 pretty good years here in
Carolina, valuable because he's spent about a decade in the area?
Maybe, maybe not. As a fan, absolutely, I think so. He's also a guy
whose value wavers for his height, and that can be a problem if you're
using him wrong. Carolina's using him correctly, but as a young player
with experience starting, sometimes that paycheck can matter about as
much.

Which is why Gettleman can afford to be less sentimental. But, that
requires some patience of him. It would be easy to tag Hardy, quickly
sign Munnerlyn. Then you're short a chance to do anything about
anything else, with a quite poor depth chart at both CB, S, and WR
around what's left. Gettleman's playing the long game, acknowledging
that this year will require some tough choices. Hopefully, that means
remaining competitive while the team works its way out of its current
cap situation, which would've been more palatable with more than a
slightly-above-.500 run over the last 3 years cumulatively.

A few unpopular decisions will inevitably made. The team will often
look like it's sitting on its hands, while it's holding tight and
waiting for the right time to get players that fit. It might not even
work. In the meantime, there has to be a level of patience to deal with
the wait.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Asante Samuel: Cut

Atlanta cut Asante Samuel today, modestly weakening an already poor
defense. The 33 year old corner had 1 INT/3 defensed passes/1 forced
fumble in 11 games.

Samuel may be an interesting roleplayer. Still allright in coverage,
he's not a good tackler and at this point in his career, he might be
better off the bench. Carolina, unlike most teams, plays the run well
enough that they don't have to worry as much about that, but Ron Rivera
still seems to prefer guys who tackle in base defense.

Samuel was an Eagle with coach Sean McDermott from 2008-10 (he left in
'11, a year after McDermott), so there's a familiarity with what the
team would want.

It probably won't happen, and even if it did it would be weeks from
now, but I'd be in favor of it. A $4 million savings for Atlanta, at
this point Samuel would likely be $2 million or less.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

BLESTO: More Change?

Dave Gettleman, per the Charlotte Observer, is finally making a change
or two to the front office.

It's not what I've hoped for, but it's a process.

The Panthers now use the scouting co-op BLESTO, instead of National
Scouting, to form the start of their college scouting work.

In both co-ops, a team will assign a scout to the service. The service
coordinates scouting reports on prospects, which are then reported back
to the member teams. The way each team deals with the information is,
of course, proprietary information. Most teams use their least
experienced scout so as to not give up any unnecessary information.

The move is a minor one. The Giants used BLESTO, Gettleman's aligning
with what he knows. What does it mean? Nothing, essentially.

Gettleman's finally feeling at home, and hopefully he'll get around to
a greater extension of the scouting staff. He's reportedly added one
pro scout, a good start, and I'd implore him to keep pushing on that.
The team has an allright-sized staff, but compared to the Giants,
there's just not as much.

The Giants have a similar pair of pro/college scouting directors (Marc
Ross, notably, is now a VP of player evaluation), but also have an
assistant GM, an assistant Pro Personnel guy, and 10 full time scouts.
I don't see one on hand now, but I remember them rostering a
sabermetrician.

Gettleman doesn't need to do everything The Giant Way, certainly. I do
think that he's light on his own guys, and he's been careful to not let
anyone go. So why not add a job here or there? Picking up an extra Pro
Personnel guy or adding an assistant GM would be a great way to expand
the existing staff, at a reasonable price.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Rookie Review: UDFAs

For a team that seemed to have more veteran backups and good depth than
what we're used to, Carolina still pulled in a number of undrafted
rookies to play, and many look poised to keep moving forward with the
team.


Melvin White

2013 season performance

White started out inactive, but he started 10 games and played the
second most snaps behind Captain Munnerlyn. Busting onto the scene
against NYG, he had a pick and a forced fumble to get a game ball from
the team.

At one point, White's QB rating on targets was in the 40s. Tom Brady
started picking on him, and after that things started to become more of
a struggle. He never stopped fighting, however, and got rewarded with
(an awkward looking) pick-6 against Atlanta that essentially won the
game.

Longterm Prognosis

White's a long, lean corner with some physicality and tackling skill,
and that's exactly what Ron Rivera loves. A year's worth of experience
behind him and his first offseason in a pro weight program should help
him. But, with 5 free agent DBs, the position will undoubtedly change,
and White will have to battle for his spot. With experience should
come some greater route recognition.



Robert Lester

2013 season performance

Highly touted out of rookie camp, Lester disappeared until he was
needed in game 3, again the Giants game, and he had 5 tackles and an
INT. He finished with 4 starts and situationally playing the rest of
his 295 snaps (about 6-7 games' worth), with 21 tackles and 3 INT (2nd
on the team behind Mike Mitchell, who played 900 snaps).

He did have some hiccups against San Francisco, with a missed tackle
and a blown coverage, each of which cost the team.

Longterm Prognosis

He contributed, and he has the size (6'1, 215) to keep helping out.
He's a thumper who has a nose for the ball, but he has to clean up the
mistakes to play safety. He's a guy who, if asked, can play the short
zone just fine and will hold onto the deeper zone well enough if asked.
He doesn't have the range to pull off a cover 1, but if you do a flip
cover 3 or go to quarters, he'll help you. With the two starters at S
both free agents, Lester could be good insurance against letting one
walk.


Wes Horton

2013 season performance

The USC alum played 10 games/169 snaps, and recorded 2 sacks, 6
tackles. He had 6 tackles and 1.5 sacks in preseason as well. He added
situational rush as needed, most specifically down the stretch with 2
sacks in NE with the early injury for Charles Johnson.

Longterm Prognosis

A lot depends on Greg Hardy and how they deal with him/potentially
replace him. The snaps are there to be had, and Horton wasn't expected
to compete as well as he did against Mario Addison or Frank Alexander.
But he's in the equation, and if he can add strength to his 6'5, 265 lb
frame, he'll have as good a shot as any to get more play.

Rookie Review: Kenjon Barner

It's hard not to call any RB pick a luxury with the Panthers'
investment. It's not to say they can't possibly use the help, as both
starters are getting a little older, and not cheaper. Carolina pulled a
roleplayer in Kenjon Barner instead of handling needs on the OL or
defensive backfield.

Barner, the guy Ron Rivera apparently wanted when he spoke of wanting
Darren Sproles, is neither tall nor thick. He's absolutely fast enough,
built like a receiver and runs like one. To get him, the Panthers
passed up on similarly rated Andre Ellington and Mike James, both of
which seem more suited to the run game than Barner.



2013 season performance

Barner showed up in 8 games, with his only notable time coming against
Tampa (5 carries, 6 yards), finishing 6/7 and 2 receptions for 7 yards.

Longterm Prognosis

I don't know. Barner might be a guy you design some things for,
screens and the like, some passing plays, but so far he just goes down
on contact. That's not idea for a run-after-the-catch type deal. He's
a potentially able KR/PR, depending on where Ted Ginn, Jr or replacement
ends up on the roster.

There are worse things for a 6th rounder to not have produced, but RBs
you want to see some immediate spark. So far, Barner's still got some
work to do to redeem this pick. To this point, he hasn't shown much
different from Tauren Poole or Armond Smith, guys who lost a job to
Barner.

Rookie Review: AJ Klein

After the "Who?" of Ed Kugbila, started coming the "huh?" picks. Not
out of a lack of value, but out of expectation that the team needed
players in the defensive backfield, more linemen, and some believed hard
in the need for skill players.

At that spot, it was hard to think LB. The team had three starters,
plus Chase Blackburn, and a slew of special teamers. There wasn't even
considered room for another guy. I liked OT David Quesenberry, an
athletic but raw blocker.

In hindsight, it's hard to say "don't take him". TE Luke Willson has
been a solid contributor for the Seahawks. Somewhat notably, current
Panther Tavarres King went after Klein, to the Broncos, before Carolina
eventually picked him up.


2013 season performance

Klein started the season as the 6th LB, and finished it vying for the
3rd spot. His stat sheet wasn't gaudy, and when you're on the field
with Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly, you've gotta work for it. 21
tackles and 2 sacks isn't anything to send to the Hall of Fame just yet.
But his quality when he played was incredible for a rookie.

Playing 129 snaps fits pretty well with having played about three games
given the way the Panthers use the 3rd LB. In his three games playing
extensively (non-starting ATL, then @SF and NE, both starts), hehad 11
tackles and a sack, which extrapolates out to a 16 game season of 44
tackles and 4 sacks (though the sack is potentially an outlier, Klein
was one of 5 non-DL to have at least two sacks, as he also notched a
sack against Tampa a few weeks later). Since he had 3 tackles with that
Tampa sack, it does seem to follow the extrapolation to a point.
Klein's a productive player while on the field, and that's critical for
a rookie.

Longterm Prognosis

Klein's a deceptively fast, rangy LB who can start at any of the three
spots. At worst, he's excellent depth, and he's a player that should
figure into starting eventually. He's an instinctive, able guy who
could, on a lesser team, likely end up a pretty good MLB or OLB that
cleans up a ton of tackles. He seems to be OK in coverage, too. Not "OK
for a 5th", allright for a linebacker in general (wish I had his
coverage QB rating/overall stats of targets/etc).

And, in the meantime he's a guy who should be an excellent special
teamer. So, this pick is a definite win.

Rookie Review: Edmund Kugbila

The first "who?" pick in this draft for Carolina, Kugbila reminded
everyone of Amini Silatolu. A tiny-school lineman who showed a lot of
athleticism, who could've played for a bigger school if he'd done his
homework, and who had a habit of knocking over opponents (though, also
those opponents were clearly inferior).

Unlike Silatolu, he's gotten no experience actually playing. Like
Silatolu, he's raw (and has a habit of getting hurt).


2013 season performance

Kugbila practiced a day with the ones in minicamp. I can't remember
him providing much in camp at all.

Longterm Prognosis

It's up to him, I guess. The team has a need at RG, and the other
options have all tried and had issues.

The rumors abound on Kugbila's work ethic and conditioning. His
future's there for him - be a potential starting lineman in the NFL, or
jerk us all around waiting.

Until next camp, hard to say what's there. I'll say this, if he
doesn't start showing up at least in practice, they'll replace him.

Rookie Review: Kawann Short

It was a surprise to see Short picked. He was billed as a great value,
but he wasn't high on my radar at the time. I can't remember who I
expected there, but Larry Warford was a guy I really liked, and he
should've made the Pro Bowl at guard. Still, you can't argue with what
you got out of this pick.


2013 season performance

Short played over half the snaps at DT, and filled a really necessary
spot as a rush specialist inside. He didn't register high on the sack
list, at 1.5 sacks coming in behind six non-linemen, but his production
from a pressure, hit, and hurry situation (profootballfocus.com's
proprietary ranking) had Short as the top rookie interior defender with
36.

That's 21st in the league, and, again rookie highest. So Short's not
getting the easy route to the QB that those blitzers have gotten, or the
breaks that some of the other Panther rushers got, but Short's been
mixing it up in there, pushing the pocket. That has an immense and
immediate value in this or any other defense.


Longterm Prognosis

Short's an ideal 2nd starter at DT. He doesn't seem to have any run
deficiency to go with his top notch rushing. He's a guy who could, in a
pinch, play any of the interior DL spots and hopefully he'd never need
to, but he's got the body type to play some left end as needed, too.

He won't have those ridiculously punishing plays like Star Lotulelei
will, where you'll see him just bull a guy and then throw him down, but
he looks like the type of guy who'll defend his gap well and can get
after the passer in any situation. He's showing his lateral quickness
on the field, and you have

My only concern longterm involves his eye. I haven't really seen that
addressed anywhere - whether that's going to need fixing and what that
would mean for him in how he develops, how he trains (or whether it
affects his play). The draft process is rigorous and unforgiving -
left tackles become guards in some eyes because hands or arms are
fractionally smaller than wanted. Quarterbacks become receivers not
because of ability but size, and so on. And no one that I can recall
ever mentioned in a scouting report that his eyes go in different
directions. It hasn't seemed to bother his play, but when guys come out
of college being labeled inconsistent, you'd want to know why. Does
this play a factor?

I don't know. It's probably not a worry. Either way, Short's a guy
who provides a significant upside on a defense that has a lot locked in
around him. This should continue to be a win all the way.

Rookie Review: Star Lotulelei

I wanted to go through the rookies, with draft picks and the few
relevant UDFAs, so I'll pump through these in fairly short order.


Star met very high expectations, and was everything I hoped for out of
a top 15 draft pick. He was incredible value at the time, and remains
so. He's a building block upon which this team will be exceptionally
strong on defense, just out of deference to how he can control his gap
and what that means for the guys behind him.

2013 season performance

For a guy that size to have 3 sacks and be 7th on a very strong team in
tackles is remarkable. That he played more than 50% of snaps after an
expectation that he'd play 30%, that's pleasing. He also played a lot
of 3 technique, which again I was concerned he'd be too bottled up at NT
this season. He ended up starting at the under tackle next to Colin
Cole while ably splitting both jobs long term.

He was a powerful player, and a legitimate rookie of the year
candidate. Sheldon Richardson was likely a little bit better, but that
shouldn't take away from Lotulelei being the difference maker in
Carolina becoming an elite defense.

Longterm Prognosis?

He's going to only get better. I can't wait to have him locked in
longterm to his second contract.

You'd anticipate that he would, long term, stay in the middle since
Kawann Short is more or less only a 3/5 tech guy. But, I could
completely see Star playing a lot of 3 with Short not in the game, which
would leave the NT spot to be where the team puts more resources in
backups and rotation.

That said the difference is minimal in practice, as neither spot plays
two-gap, and if you wanted to say "situational run-stopping depth"
instead of a strict NT, there's no difference. In the end, our DTs hit
a gap and defend it, whether in the 1, 3, or 5. Doesn't matter.

Gettleman's Gaffes

Dave Gettleman navigated a heavy set of problems to make 2014 a
successful year. A net change from inheriting $16 million over the cap,
to around $17 million under, as well as finding numerous contributors
and starters. He's been exceeding expectations.

I love that the offseason means discussion, and recently Gettleman
candidly spoke about the past offseason. What spurred this posting was
him saying that his gaffes didn't cost the team much, and then wouldn't
specify what


*Failing to close on 3 year deals - Gettleman reportedly wanted Captain
Munnerlyn and possibly Mike Mitchell on three year deals and ended up
having to push both to one year deals to get them done. You never want
to give away anything you don't have to, but the team would definitely
look better if it'd gotten both on 3, not 1. They might not be facing a
second full year of bargain binning at DB, maybe being able to rely a
little harder on the draft with the pieces they knew the had.


*DJ Moore - it's tough to criticize too hard when you pick up five new
DBs at a bargain rate and one of them busts out enough to be cut, but
Moore had the ability to push Captain Munnerlyn and yet barely played
because of injury. Since only Munnerlyn of the group of corners played
fulltime throughout the year (followed by starter-to-street-to-starter
Dray ton Florence), they could've used Moore. The impact is minimal,
since he'd have been a free agent anyway, but the team exceeded
expectations at CB and still didn't have enough there.


*Ed Kugbila - he still has time to turn it around, but you could argue
it doesn't look great so far. Kugbila has barely practiced, which is a
fact; the rumor is he doesn't work that hard and didn't even rehab
injury that well. He's definitely a man-child who can be powerful, but
the team could've used him to get around numerous other injuries.

Behind him, the next pick was David Bakhtiari, who played well at
tackle. Another small-school lineman, Earl Watford, didn't play for
Arizona this year, but I like him as well. You could argue that he put
himself in this position by not doing anything else to help the OL (Nate
Chandler you may argue is still a net positive) and pushing OL to the
4th round. That makes you reach a bit, maybe.

Don't get me wrong. The 2013 draft, even if you just assume that
hitting the first pick is a given, or that the second should be too
(Short's the best 2nd since Richard Marshall, which was 06), was a
success. Two DTs making the defense elite is worth the cost of doing
less other places, and AJ Klein was a steal who could start now. If
Kenjon Barner can contribute, it's a heck of a draft.

*Barner - I liked the idea of Barner, but (in a very small sample size)
he looks slight, he doesn't look powerful. Can he be a playmaker?
Absolutely. But he's not the least bit there yet. If you need a back,
and Carolina really didn't, hindsight says Andre Ellington is an almost
starter level player right now. Mike James was a good fill in guy for
the Buccaneers. Baccari Rambo would be interesting and would've filled
a need, though he missed a lot of tackles for Washington.

As well, you could argue pretty hard against two straight luxury picks
after a project in Kugbila. That's what happens when you're going
straight best player, as Gettleman states he did.


*Chris Gamble - I put this one here partly out of ignorance. I hear
his shoulder wasn't really to the point where he'd have continued to
play, possibly. Is that a rumor? I don't know. I do imagine that a
healthy Gamble would've been worth the risk, however. This is a reach
on my part, without all the info. They had to have the cap space
instead, and that part was well-spent overall.

*Jon Beason - I wonder if there was a compromise to letting Beason go
earlier? His per-game bonuses suggest something would need to happen
rather urgently, and it did. I don't think they ever intended to let
him go this early, so it's hard to criticize. He's a MLB, and a good
one. The Panthers have possibly the best one in the league, in part
because Beason was outright cursed here after signing a deal he
abolutely deserved.

*Greg Hardy - pretty nitpicky, but he supposedly offered Hardy $8
million a year. I have no idea how close that was to getting the deal
done, but how smart would he look right now if he'd popped $10 mil a
year and sealed the deal? The team would have less money to get done
with vets, but at that point the Cam Newton contract becomes the only
critical situation. The rest is fluid. He played the market on that
one (or, maybe Hardy/Drew Rosenhaus did) and it didn't work at that
point. Regardless of how it goes from there, the cost of doing business
won't get less high, whether he leaves, whether he's signed to an
appropriate deal, or if he's a franchise player.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dave Gettleman, On Air

It's impossible to truly glean intentions from a radio interview, but Dave Gettleman's a good listen.

http://charlotte.cbslocal.com/2014/01/31/dave-gettleman-cam-newton-really-grew-up-this-season/

So, here goes:

*Gettleman likes to read the market.  He gets praise for the one year deals, and when he says it's not ideal, it reminds you that he did what he had to do, maybe not as much what he wanted to do.  Lots of guys on that team last year, that signed for one, were guys he wanted for three.  Captain Munnerlyn, Mike Mitchell (I believe).

Either way, he's going to value players, and try to get the guys who match that value.  Not everything will go exactly as Carolina might hope, and he might have to put more money on those 2, 3 year deals to get them done, but hopefully he lands more of those.

*Colin Cole might return more easily than I'd have figured.  Sure, he started, but the team also seemed to like playing Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short together.   You'd figure that the 4th best DT wouldn't be worth the $800,000+ that he cost, but Dwan Edwards wasn't that impactful (a dropoff to 3 sacks, and not starting, means he was somewhat a situational rusher on a team with a situational rushing rookie and two ends that can rush inside).   Cole played the fewest snaps of the 4 DTs, but he did start, and he's the situational runstopper.  He lets Star play 3-tech in base, which is a luxury not a lot of teams have (versatility in your other nose tackle, or more explicitly a 325 lb earth mover who can rush well from the 3-tech).

So it makes you wonder whether Edwards, at a $1.4 million or so savings, might not go instead.  Cole's salary would erase at least half of that, but  there would still be a savings.

*You could argue his statement about "6 rookies" playing defense means he might push a little more toward DBs coming in the draft.  Obviously most of the DBs that played this year, free agents, are vets.

*Relatedly, he likes the OL coaches for the same situations (Nate Chandler for instance), and I certainly don't believe it's as likely new players will be free agents.

*He mentions some young guys (Marvin McNutt, Travares King, Travis Bond) that are "2014 draft picks".  Awesome, but I wouldn't worry about those guys lessening what happens at those positions.

*It'll be interesting to see what happens on the Cam contract.  Absolutely, it's cheaper in '14 to not sign Newton. It's not likely to be less expensive in '15.  On the other end, prices won't end up less expensive by then.

*That mention of the Panther schedule could and likely will mean more than just for Cam or Hardy.  Gettleman's a guy who goes for the bargain deals.  You can expect at least 2 weeks, and there were three weeks last year, before anything really happens in free agency.



Rivera, Kuechly Honored

Ron Rivera's your AP Coach of the Year.

Luke Kuechly's your AP Defensive Player of the Year.

No Panther has ever held DPOTY.  Dom Capers won COTY in 1996.

The tandem of coach and linebacker have helped lead each other to greatness, and for now, that's no more personified than with the NFL's highest individual honors for their respective professions.   It's not completely unrealistic to call Kuechly an extension of Rivera on the field, and the two's success have been tied.  This wasn't a Ron Rivera defense, achieving as well as any of his fantastic defenses ever have, without Kuechly.  

And Kuechly, great as his tape was in college, doesn't get this good in the pros without Ron Rivera.

It makes sense they were honored almost simultaneously.  You almost sense they could swap roles and be passable at it.

Nonetheless, for being the best at their craft, both Panthers are honored tonight and for the year to come. Congrats.