Panthers Lock Up Two FAs. Does It Mean Anything?

Long snapper Jansen had zero 'bad snaps' to his name in 2011. (Photo courtesy of Panthers.com)

The Carolina Panthers have officially reached terms with LS J.J. Jansen on a new 4-year deal, and LB Jason Phillips on a 1-year deal, the team announced today.

Typically the signing of a long snapper and a backup OLB mean very little, but when we examine the moves through the lens of the off-season we start to see some interesting things take shape. Firstly we have Jansen, who at this point is entering his 4th season, this is important because it's in the 4th year of veterancy that the NFL's minimum contract balloons greatly, and typically you see long snappers at minimum salary. Around the league this spot is typically rotated and populated by rookie and backup centers to keep the cost down, however the Panthers have elected to keep the veteran, and reliable (0 bad snaps in 2011) Jansen.

This could mean that the Panthers will be looking to make a move at kicker or punter this off-season. Both Olindo Mare and Jason Baker were near the bottom of the league at their respective skill, and what better way to ease in a rookie at either position than ensuring you have a reliable long snapper to set them up for success? It's definitely something to watch.

More after the jump

Then we come to Jason Philips, backup OLB and special teamer. Again, this is an easy signing to overlook or write off as insignificant, but I believe it could foreshadow a lack of attention at the OLB position in the draft. Don't get me wrong, I still think the Panthers will draft a linebacker at some point in time, but I can't help but feel like this move was made to have a safety net for Thomas Davis, and if that's the case it would lead us to believe the team has every intention of trying him again in 2012.

When healthy Davis is a dynamic, quick, hard hitting OLB and it's unlikely the Panthers could find such a player in the draft without investing a 1st round pick. This is a zero-sum risk that allows Carolina to potentially play Davis again as starting OLB, with Phillips as the backup and then address the special teams need at LB later in the draft.

Time will tell (as in all things), but when teams make moves at this time of the year it is normally when scouts are wrapping up their film evaluation of prospects. From here they move to the combine, which has little significance to team's opinions outside of the in depth physicals (as Da'Quan Bowers will tell you). I believe that these moves now could open the door for a rookie specialist, or lack of a linebacker early in the draft.

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