With former Carolina Panther Kerry Collins announcing his retirement yesterday an already small veteran QB market just got a lot smaller. As it stands there are scant few reliable veteran quarterbacks who could be available via free agency or trade.
The topic of veteran quarterbacking seems to be a rather divisive topic that splinters fans. Some think the Panthers should make a play for Carson Palmer or Matt Hasselbeck, someone who could start for all of 2011 and give Cam Newton the opportunity Jimmy Clausen never had, a full year to acclimate to the NFL game.
Meanwhile, others believe the Panthers should simply resign incumbent Matt Moore and turn the keys over to Newton from the outset. This supports a notion that an established veteran at the position would only stir up trouble while the future franchise QB puts his stamp on the team. This group believes all instruction at the position should be left up to Mike Shula alone.c Bulger
Finally, we have a group who fall somewhere in the middle. They want a backup who can provide advice to Newton, help him learn the NFL game, but not someone with an ego that could disrupt team building. This is the category that I find myself in, and it could be the most difficult place to find a reliable player.
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The main problem the Carolina Panthers face in enticing a veteran backup is simply what they have to offer. They can't lure a player with the promise of playing time, because at this point the entire league realizes the Panthers look to throw Newton to the wolves early. Concurrently, they can't offer glory or championships because of last year's 2-14 record. I, as well as every other fan know this truly isn't a 2-14 team, but to outsiders that's all they have to go on.
Rather than discussing each potential veteran by name, instead I'm focusing on some other teams that are looking for veteran help at the position and explaining why Carolina would be a hard sell in relation to these teams.
St. Louis: The Rams will be in the market for a reliable veteran to back up Sam Bradford in an extremely pass friendly offense. The Rams were 7-9 in 2010, which was almost enough to get a playoff spot in the weak NFC West. With the addition of Robert Quinn the defense has been improved and with Matt Hasselbeck in flux up in Seattle the division could be ripe for the Rams' taking. This alone makes it hard to imagine a veteran would choose Carolina over St. Louis.
Washington: Provided it's someone Mike Shanahan likes the lure of playing time in the capital could be too much to overlook. Let's face it, becoming a Redskin means your only competition right now is John Beck, unless the Skins decide to keep Donovan McNabb, and that seems extremely unlikely. While Shanahan's treatment of McNabb could turn off a potential veteran, the allure of starting again would be very appealing.
Tennessee: Do you want to mentor Jake Locker or Cam Newton? In both cases it's a wash, you're being a caretaker for a rookie QB. However, Tennessee did finish with a 6-10 record in a division that is more favorable than the NFC South. If you're going to pick a team in this part of the country it seems to make sense to head one state west.
Baltimore: Last year the Ravens signed QB Marc Bulger as a backup to Joe Flacco, and there's little reason to think they wont do the same again if Bulger leaves. The Ravens are in a position to offer potential Superbowl glory to a veteran who hasn't been to the big game, and this alone makes it impossible to imagine a player would pass on that to play in Charlotte.
Seattle: This is a catch-22 situation; if the Seahawks resign Hasselbeck then it takes another veteran off the market, if they don't then they become an extremely desirable location for a veteran. A 2010 playoff birth and playing time form a couplet that will be tough to ignore for a quarterback.
Arizona: The Cardinals are an interesting situation because they may or may not already have a QB locked up. The organization have been linked to Kevin Kolb via trade for some time, while also rumored to have discussed a deal in principal with Marc Bulger prior to the lockout. If they have Bulger in the bag then they have taken another QB off the market.
Miami: There's no denying the Dolphins are itching to push Chad Henne to earn the starting QB job. Leading up to, and during the draft they were rumored to be taking about several different deals to acquire a quarterback. With the recent injury to Chad Pennington this situation is further exacerbated, to the point where the team could look for a veteran and can offer the promise of a starting position.
The Carolina Panthers aren't in prime position to land a solid veteran QB. As it stands there are more suitors than there are players, and each of those suitors look like Prince Charming to the Panthers' toad. There's nothing inspiring or motivating about coming to a 2-14 team to warm the bench and instruct a rookie QB. Unless the organization are prepared to truly open up the starting spot to competition then it seems almost impossible the Panthers could land one of the better veteran QBs available. As it stands the writing is on the wall, the coaching staff seems set of letting Newton learn on the job, and Cam seems to be doing everything to make his transition as easy as possible; in the end this looks to be the right move.