Darrin Gantt has a post that compares the Panthers conservative approach to FA moves by other teams that resulted in free agent "Buyers Remorse". I could probably argue with some of his examples of remorseful moves but instead I want to start with the question he poses at the end of his post:
Would you rather proceed buyer-beware, or set yourself up for buyer's remorse?
It’s a good question. Are the Panthers simply prudent or are they overly cautious to a fault? I think we can all agree that the Panthers brass prefers the buyer-beware approach, rarely going for the big names. We never bother getting excited about the start of free agency because the Panthers just don’t make moves early, at least not on the big names. It’s kind of like a batter that never swings at the first pitch.
On the other hand we can find examples of good early FA moves, how about Jared Allen for one. I think more important than bidding early or late in free agency is simply being able to evaluate talent. DT Albert Haynesworth very well could be worth every penny of his $100M contract. It’s a heck of a risk for sure but sometimes it’s a good deal to pay a player a large contract if they deliver an equally large performance on the field. I think you have to look at every FA deal and consider whether you would label it as in the ‘black’ or in the ‘red’. So let’s evaluate the Panthers conservative approach to free agency by looking at last years FA class:
In the black:OL Keydrick Vincent; K Rhys Lloyd; WR Musin Muhammad;CB Dante Wesley Breakeven: DT Darwin
In the red: WR DJ Hackett; LB Landon Johnson;
DE Tyler Brayton
That’s not too convincing is it? Maybe this is why they are gun shy on signing big name FA’s, they don’t trust themselves? As far as expectation for this off-season I don’t think this offseason is a fair measure of the Panthers pace. They are hamstrung from initiating deals because of the Peppers huge franchise tag salary.
One positive you can say from this analysis is that because there are no big names anywhere on the list it doesn’t mean they risked a lot of money. So even though Hackett, Johnson and Brayton were arguable the Panthers biggest FA signings last year their less-than-stellar seasons don’t represent a big financial loss. In fact Johnson and Brayton may yield better results this season.
So in summary we have examples of FA busts and FA home runs and when it’s all added up for the Panthers they seem to be slightly on the plus side for the year.