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.
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.
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.
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!
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?