First reported by Jay Glazer of Fox Sports and since verified by Darin Gantt and the rest of the sports world; tonight the Carolina Panthers made a tough decision and cut QB Jake Delhomme who has been the team's starter since 2003.
It appears that the move was more practical than symbolic. The organization took advantage of the lack of a CBA for 2010 to cut Delhomme and only be responsible for the $13 million or so remaining on his contract, rather than taking a salary cap hit in subsequent years.
Though there is no indication whether this split was amicable, or expected,one thing is for sure; it's the end of an era.
More after the jumpThere was little denying that Delhomme's performance slipped greatly during the 2009 season, where he posted career lows in yards as a starter, completion percentage, QB rating and touchdowns, while posting highs in interceptions before being placed on injure reserve with a broken finger. It was evident that Delhomme may not retain the starting job in 2010, but wholly surprising that the team cut ties with him tonight.
The charge was often leveled at the coaching staff and front office that they pandered to Delhomme, giving him preferential treatment and refusing to pull him when needed. Justification for these moves ranged from believing coach John Fox had an unnatural level of trust in Delhomme, to claims that Jake was dating his daughter- one of the most prolific fallacies in Carolina sports.
One area that can't be disputed, however, was Delhomme's success as a quarterback. Leading the Panthers to an NFC Championship and Superbowl appearance in 2003 and an NFC Championship appearance in 2005. A lot of the Panthers' success during this time could be attributed to Delhomme's leadership on the offensive side of the ball, and an unnatural ability to lead game winning drives.
There currently isn't any information on what happens to Delhomme next. He is now a free agent and could sign with another team, he could also retire. Regardless of what happens next his number seventeen jersey definitely deserves to be retired as Delhomme takes his place in the annals of Panther greats.
The Carolina Panthers now look towards the future with Matt Moore. Moore ended the 2009 season in a dramatic and successful fashion and GM Marty Hurney had previously stated there would be an open competition for the starting job for the 2010 season. With only Matt Moore and practice squad QB Hunter Cantwell under contract the Panthers definitely figure to be looking for a quarterback either through free agency, or through the draft.
For now though the Panther nation is in shock. Whether fans are struck with dismay, or elation the Panthers have now lost their two most polarizing figured in less than two weeks and a new era of Carolina Panther football is on the horizon.