Facts first. Carolina Panthers Free Agents.
QB Matt Moore 26
RB Deangelo Williams 27
C Ryan Kalil 25
DE Charles Johnson 24
CB Richard Marshall 25 and CJ Wilson 25
With a change in offensive philosophy, it's hard to speculate just yet on which of these players will become expendable. The price tag that a player like D. Williams can command may be more than the Panthers need to spend, considering there are three other backs on the roster still under contract who are very explosive and could possibly start on other teams. If D. Williams is resigned, expect one of the players under contract to be traded. Of the three tight ends, only one was a pure blocking Tight End and it just happens to be the one under contract. Gary Barnidge will most likely not be resigned, but expect him to sign with another team and do very well. Ryan Kalil is a must resign. The one knock on Ryan Kalil coming out of college was his size, but his technique and instincts have shown that his size has not been a detriment. Charles Johnson is due a big paycheck after his break out year and I expect that the Panthers will be glad to sign that check. Nick Hayden showed progress this year and may be worth resigning, Ed Johnson was a feel good story at the beginning of the year, but may not be a viable free agent signing. As electric as Thomas Davis is, two season ending injuries in two years and a plethora of worthy talent waiting in the wings makes resigning him doubtful. Under John Fox, he most surely would have been resigned, but with new coaches, the focus shifts and TD may be lost to free agency, kudos to any team that is wise enough to sign this once in a decade linebacker, if our new staff resigns him, this fan will be overjoyed. James Anderson is a must, in a league that is so thin on quality strong side backers, Anderson is an Elite play maker. I expect flack for my opinion on Richard Marshall, but please bare with me. Marshall is still very young and has the potential to be a great corner under a different defensive scheme. Cover 2 defenses hand off responsibilities to safeties and rely on safety help to make plays. When we talk about defensives getting tired for being on the field too long, take a moment to think of the safeties who spend more time running forward to cover and their area to cover typically covers sideline to sideline. Cornerbacks spend a majority of the game back peddling, following routes, trying to keep pace with receivers and directing traffic. Any cb in the league will look suspect after too much time on the field. Marshall is loyal to the Panthers and does not want to play anywhere else. If Carolina can get good DT help, you'll see a better Marshall.
The needs of the Panthers are not as great as I've read on some of the posts on the message boards. However, a new coaching philosophy typically overhauls the trenches more than anything else. I did not speculate on Matt Moore, because it is difficult to know if he can return from his injury. The glaring needs must be addressed though. Jimmy Clausen should spend the offseason working on his mechanics. Numerous players have overcome physical detriments to excel in the NFL (see Ryan Kalil above). I say this, more to keep the peace, but my actual assessment of Clausen boils down to the Smith factor. Steve Smith is an undersized wide receiver whose talent is only surpassed by his desire to make plays and win. The knock on Mathew Stafford was that he did not do enough to protect himself from defenders, he cared more about making the play than protecting his body. This is the opposite extreme of Clausen. I don't expect him to throw caution to the wind, but the QB's that learn to take the hits, or care less about making mistakes and more about making plays are the ones who succeed. The crazy and stupid throws that Delhomme lived by for years are the same ones that burned him in the end, but it was his willingness to try that brought the Panthers some moniker of success during his tenure. The Panthers need a QB and I do not think Cam Newton would be another Jamarcus Russell, but to make him a number one pick would not do him any service. Players with character issues need to be humbled first, draft them late and let them prove their worth. The idea of a Derek Sherrod to shore up our offensive line would give me hope. I enjoyed the Andrew Luck bandwagon, I think he'll be good, I also think Cam Newton will be good, but how we could overlook a player like Jake Locker confuses me. He's by far the best QB I see available. This is my opinion and unless the facism that has overtaken most of America has some how found it's way on this message board, I'll stick to it. There will be some good DT's available in the draft. Last thing I want to say, it would sadden me to see Steve Smith on another team, but I think alot of people gave up on the Armanti Edwards project way too early. In a league where it takes 3 years to develop a wide receiver, it's way too early to give up on A.E. It's also unfair for me to give up on Clausen after one year, but Clausen isn't pro ready, he needs a few years on the bench behind some quality experience and some real qb competition to prove his worth.