Homer vs. Hater: Panthers First Week of Free Agency

We are never without our debates on CSR and this first week of free agency has certainly been no exception. It has ranged from loud applause at every move to calls for Marty Hurney’s job depending on who you are listening to. When the debates are raging in the offseason that means it is time to break out the Homer vs. Hater format so we can detail both sides of the argument. So I’m going to take the Homer position and Cyberjag, who as an original PSL owner never shies away from giving his opinion, will talk to the Hater point of view. I've got a poll at the end to see who better represents the fan bases point of view. So here we go.

With regards to the Panthers first week of free agency:

Homer: Panthers GM Marty Hurney is again showing that he is a master bargain shopper who not only gets the types of players the Panthers need to improve but also signs them without blowing up the salary cap. It should be no surprise the Panthers bypassed the big name free agents that tend to bust the bank more often than they do the record books (Think Gilbert, Wahle and Peppers). The Panthers have learned from sour free agent signings of the past by instead placing their big money on known quantities, meaning their own players. Consequently they were big spenders last offseason when they needed to wrap up their core players and therefore find themselves with only a few major needs this offseason.

Hater: It sure isn't a surprise, because we can't afford any of the quality players out there. That's because in his wisdom, Hurney overpaid last year for a running back who got us 800 yards and isn't even the best back on the roster! I know they want to act like the Steelers and Packers, but if you want to build through the draft then you have to know how to draft, and Hurney has been awful after the first round. Usually when a GM can't find late talent he fills it through Free Agency. In Carolina, we've got a guy who crosses his arms and smiles, as if he's proud to be starting Charles Godfrey.

Praise bargain shopping all you want, but when was the last time you saw a prime filet in the discount bin? Hurney's been here 11 years, and has three winning seasons to his credit. There's your bargain shopper at work.

We've got more H v H banter ...after the jump...

Homer: Where Hurney has invested his effort this offseason is wrapping up some mid-level talent that both provides needed depth at key positions while also more importantly upgrading special teams. All four of the Panthers biggest free agent signings are depth players that also excel at special teams: DE/OLB Jyles Tucker, FS Haruki Nakamura, LB Ken Onatalu and the latest signing RB Mike Tolbert. Hurney has now added four key pieces to special teams with minimal impact to the salary cap. All four of these guys could become starters if needed and a couple guys are expected to challenge for starting spots right out of the gate. So this is not the Panthers simply picking through the scrap heap for what was left. This is a team targeting specific types of players, players they are familiar with so they know what they are getting for their investment.

Hater: Um, yeah... I don't know about you, but I sure looked at the Panthers roster and thought "Backup linebackers and another running back = Superbowl!" *facepalm*

And really, mid-level talent? Really???

Seriously, how difficult is it to figure out what we need? We've got Sherrod Martin out there, and he signs a clone instead of an upgrade. We start a short cornerback who opposing QBs picked apart last year, and we didn't even go after a replacement. Our defensive line has one legitimate starter on it, but his hopes apparently rest on returning a 33 year old DT who's never played a down for Panthers and is coming off injury. I know we're out of money, but is this really the best Hurney can do? Anyone can sign back-ups. That's why they're back-ups.

Homer: Now is Hater is sure to complain about some of the players we let leave, such as Dan Conner, Jason Baker and Travelle Wharton. Though those players will be missed it’s very obvious to me that Hurney and Rivera have a long term plan and those players did not fit into it. Maybe it was simply financial differences but I’m willing to bet it goes deeper than that. The Panthers will pay a player what they are worth if they fit in the plan, we saw that last year. I will agree I was a little perplexed at the Tolbert signing to begin with but I’m not going to read too much into it. Tolbert must provide an upgrade in certain aspects of the Panthers offense. My guess would be the 3rd down flexibility he brings in being able to run the ball, catch the ball out of the backfield or simply stay in and pass protect. I do not believe this move was a precursor to a trade of Double Trouble. It was more of a case where need met value and a player who really wanted to be in Carolina.

Hater: The only thing surprising about Connor leaving is that Hurney didn't try and overpay him to stay, like he usually does with Panther free agents. And it's also no surprise to see Wharton cut. You don't pay that kind of money to a guard who isn't even among the best in his division. As an added bonus, this means Rivera won't be tempted to play Wharton at Left Turnstile, like Fox used to do.

Of course, we didn't go out and replace either with younger, more talented players. Instead we got another running back. Yay! I hope he's a good blocker, because something tells me that there will be a lot of regular pressure from the blind side this year.

Homer: Hurney is also not a GM to rest on his laurels. The Haters may decry some of his draft day misses but he has even more hits, especially in the 1st round. Yet Hurney found himself unhappy with the misses and consequently replaced his scouting staff last offseason. That’s a bold move he doesn’t get much credit for but I expect it to reap big rewards this draft. It may take a couple seasons as always to see how good a draft class is but don’t be surprised about being surprised this April. In Hurney we trust!

Hater: So he replaced the scouting staff that brought us such luminaries as Eric Shelton and Keary Colbert with a scouting staff who recommended Dwayne Jarrett, Everette Brown, and Jimmy Clausen. And now he's replaced THAT scouting staff too! Maybe the problem isn't the scouting staff after all...

Frankly, I'll admit to surprise this April if Hurney elects to NOT trade away a future pick for a mediocre player. We should all be grateful to the rest of the league that no one wanted our 2011 first rounder in exchange for letting Hurney move up so we could take Clausen in the first round instead of the second. Now Rivera has his franchise quarterback (and half of the Charger's 2010 roster), all he needs is a GM who can surround him with talent. Maybe after Hurney flubs this draft we'll get one.

So there you have it Panther fans, a Homer and Hater point of view on the Panthers first week of free agency. So do you agree with Homer or Hater?

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