With four safeties being picked in the first round I thought I would look at those four teams (Tenn, Jax, GB, NE) to see who may have a cast-off safety available to be plucked up by the Panthers. I came up with three names, with a fourth being added today with Jax cutting Donovan Darius.
Honestly when I analyzed Jax’ secondary preparing for this post I didn’t think they had anyone worth looking at. I never imagined they would cut Darius, but hey, I think Reggie Nelson is the real deal. Plus they drafted a second safety in Josh Gattis. I must say though cutting the vet took some balls. If Darius’ leg is healed up I think the Panthers should be talking to his agent. He would be as good of a FA safety as we could find at this point.
Looking at the remaining three teams, the Titans drew first safety blood with Michael Griffin. I was surprised he was taken over Nelson but maybe Jeff Fisher knows something we don’t. Drafting Griffin might leave Lamont Thompson exposed. Thompson wouldn’t be my first target as I don’t know too much about him. In his 6th year he has plenty of experience. His stats seem average at best with 3 INT’s last season and 73 tackles.
Green Bay’s Marquand Manual might become available with the selection of Aaron Rouse. Again, like Thompson with Tennessee I don’t see too much get excited about here. Their stats are very similar, 6th year player, 80 tackles, 1 INT. Obviously GB doesn’t think he’s a long term solution.
NE selected Brandon Merriweather, which might make Artrell Hawkins expendable. I think Hawkins also can play CB which might mean NE hangs on to him. Hawkins is a former Panther so that may help, but my guess is the Panthers would not be interested or they would have never let him go in the first place. If Hawkins becomes available I'm not sure the Panthers would go after him, but I think he would at least bring some experience and familiarity.
I can’t emphasize enough how much I believe the Panthers should not wait until camp to sign a veteran safety. I think they need some sort of Plan B if either Salley or Minter falters in the pre-season. You don't want to appear desperate at any position going into the season.
In summary, if all of the above players should become available my order of preference would be: Hawkins, Darius, Thompson and then Manual. Darius would move to number 1 if he could prove his leg is healed. I have always loved the way Darius plays the game, he's a big hitter and I think his attitude would be a great addition to the Panther secondary.
Vic C. is Off His Rocker
He apparently agrees with Keyshawn that the Panthers missed by not selecting Brady Quinn in the April draft
"After a highly disappointing 2006 season, the Panthers are putting a whole lot of faith in Delhomme to make them the Super Bowl contender they were expected to be a year ago. They could have used their original 14th overall pick to select their future franchise quarterback, Brady Quinn. Instead, they made a deal with the Jets that moved them to 25th, three spots below where the Cleveland Browns eventually selected Quinn."
Why would the Panthers select a QB in the first round after signing David Carr? Is he suggesting that the Panthers traded down thinking they could still get Quinn at 25? They made it clear Beason was their target all along. Delhomme didn't have a good year, but neither did the team as a whole. I don't see why Delhomme shouldn't be given a chance to turn it around. It doesn't seem to be the reach Vic is making it out to be. The Panthers 2006 season was highly disappointing because of the high expectations placed on the Panthers coming into the season. Yet the Panthers were only a few bone-headed plays and a couple key injuries away from making the playoffs. There's no reason to think they can't turn it around to 10-6, 11-5 in 2007. Vic needs to back-up on his assumptions that the Panthers need to look beyond Delhomme.