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Are the Panthers moves putting the heat on Division Rivals?

Yup, pinch me and pigs must be flying.  The Panthers are one of, if not the most aggressive team in FA this year.  Is this putting the heat and some anxiety into the usually dismissive blood of our friends in the NFC South?

I got the impression as I was driving home today (in ATL) that a sense of panic has set in here (and elsewhere) about the aggressiveness of CAR this year in FA.  Personally, I dont know that any of our moves gets us beyond 8 games (but I damn sure hope so) but the FA season isnt over, and the regular season has yet to begin.  Plus, remember MIA going 1-15 to 11-5? Just saying.....

Lets check their moves, after the jump...

New Orleans:

They havent done much if anything in FA although they had so many guys walking out the door that they had to focus on getting some back.  They have mostly re-signed their own, most notably Lance Moore, one of Brees' favorite targets.  They lost Bush in FA to MIA, although they are well stocked at RB with Ingram and Ivory primed to be the feature backs.  The loss of Bush does take some off the return game, but as loaded as they are on offense, it wont be a huge difference.On the D side, they re-signed Torrence, the lesser of their 2 CBs. 

All in all, they didnt get any worse, but they sure didnt do anything to improve themselves.

Tampa:

Were this an old western town, tumbleweeds would be blowing down the street.....

Barrett Ruud appears to be headed out the door.  Aqib Talib is on the roster for now, but may or may not get to play depending on whether the Commish allows amnesty for anything that occurred during the lockout.  The team is young and decently deep on the O side of the ball, so they didnt need many signings beyond their draft picks there.  On the D side they are aging, Ruud is probably gone, Talib may not play, and who knows when bionic Ronde Barber will finally take one hit too many.  Clayburn should be a solid addition but, as a rookie, his immediate impact may or may not be felt until mid-season.  Bowers may be the steal of the draft if his knee stays healthy - or a total bust who doesnt see the field. 

I know sometimes we use the term "addition by subtraction", but they havent shown me that getting rid of anyone helped them.  I think they take a small step back unless a FA signing on the D side is made to help out with some of the areas there while the young guys transition this year.

Atlanta:

I live in ATL, and the more moves CAR makes, the more anxiety there is here.  Frankly, I love it, it is almost palpable.  They lost out on Charles Johnson, Babin and likely Mebane (but could still make a play for him if they have the money).  They traded off most of their draft this year to get Julio Jones, who is a stud, but unproven on the NFL level.  After him and Roddy White, Eric Weems, an RFA this year, is a solid offensive weapon but not a solid 3rd option (more of a return man).  Turner is still a beast at RB, but the likely departure of Jerious Norwood and his diminutive replacement, Jacquizz Rogers, means the running game may have taken a step back. If Turner goes down, they will have to rely on a WR rotation that is only 3 deep along with TE Gonzalez. They may have Clabo back to bolster the O line, but they still lack depth on an already suspect line.  Add the fact that they havent done anything big to improve outside of the Jones draft move (including drafting a replacement for the aging Tony Gonzalez) and ATL fans should be worried about their predictions of dominating this division in 2011-12.  And we havent even touched the S position (Green Bay fans are still sending them cheese for their play in last year's game in ATL...)

DE Abraham has been brillianton eyear, and then, looked like he was jogging in concrete the next year.  Kroy Bierman could be a nice piece in the backfield if he is off ST and keeps his legs fresh, but there is no indication they will do this.  The Falcons basically bet the farm on Julio being the main piece, and adding a DE through FA.  I believe they thought they had CJ locked up and the big offer from CAR burned them on 2 fronts - they didnt get CJ (and now have to face him x2 a yr for 6 yrs) and it raised the price for all other DE FAs.  They may not be able to afford a stud DE to come in.

Bottom line:

CAR is moving up and forward quickly, making up for the lack of movement (unless you count backward movement) the last 2-3 yrs.  The GMs, especially in ATL and NO, have got to feel some pressure to make some moves, but do they have the money and the cap room to make them?  By losing out on bigger names early on, did they doom themselves for the future?

Thoughts anyone?

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