Let me get this out of the way first, before anyone jumps to some crazy conclusion, and runs wild with it. This is no crazy "The Panthers need to rush out and sign some player to a $50 million contract post", it's a question raised by a few surprise players on the week 1 inactive list. The last thing the Panthers need to do is start making panic moves right now.
Here are 4 (or 5) players that I was surprised to see on the inactive list:
1. Eagles OT Dametress Bell (6' 5", 311) - He played his first 4 years with the Bills, until signing a $34 million contract with the Eagles (only around $3.6 million is guaranteed this year), to replace LOT Jason Peters. He's been such a disapointment so far, that even with more injuries to their O-Line, the Eagles didn't even think he was worth a gameday roster spot as a backup. The Eagles would probably love to unload him, and with several OT's around the NFL dropping like flies some team may want him, but probably not his big contract.
2. Falcons backup DE Lawrence Sidburry (6' 3", 261) - He's been a disapointment in his first 3 years, after being their #125 pick in 2009, but he did have his best season so far in 2011, with 4 sacks. He's never lived up to his physical talent (an "official" Combine 4.64-40, "unofficially" a 4.53-40, with a 1.53-10 yard split, those are average DB times), perhaps he's just a "tweener", too small for a DE, and not agile enough for a OLB. He also makes around $725,225 this season, so teams might not want to pay that much, but just sign him to a minimum contract as a free agent at the end of the season. Adding to the surprise of Sidburry being inactive, was that rookie pass rushing DE Jonathan Massaquoi was also inactive.
3. Texans OG Brandon Brooks (6' 5", 346) - He was the Texans #76 pick this year, and surprisingly (at 346 pounds) the fastest O-Lineman in the draft at a 4.52-20 yard shuttle, and a 4.98-40 (4th fastest time). I haven't seen why he was inactive, just that it's a little unusual for a 3rd round pick.
4. Chiefs DE/DT Allen Bailey (6' 3", 288) - He was the Chiefs #86 pick in the 2011 draft, who had 1 sack and 7 tackles as a rookie, in limited playing time. If he could just add 10-12 pounds to play 4-3 DT, without losing very much little speed fron his 4.77-40 and 1.67-10 yard spilt, he might be OK. He's from a very tiny island off the SC coast, a real country boy (so it may take him a little longer to develop), but his effort was sometimes questioned while at Miami.
Here are some interesting players who were cut after week 1. Once again, I'm not advocating that any of these players be claimed or signed to the Panthers roster (football is more than just the Panthers).
1. Eagles SS Jaiquawn Jarrett (6' 0", 196) - He was the Eagles #54 draft pick in 2011 ( at least McClain wasn't the highest drafted mistake, at #65), he may just not have been fast enough for the NFL (4.65-40). HC Andy Reed took responsibility for making the draft mistake.
2. Chiefs 3-4 OLB Cameron Sheffield (6' 2 1/4", 257) - He was the Chiefs #142 pick in the 2010 draft, but missed his whole rookie season with a neck injury. I say avoid players with a history of neck injuries.
Here are 2 players who have cleared waivers, who I will continue to bang the Practice Squad drum for.
OLB Sammy Brown (6' 1 7/8", 242, 33 7/8 inch arms, and 9 1/2 inch hands) - A JUCO transfer, who in only 2 seasons at Houston recorded 21 sacks, and 50 TFL's (13.5 and 30 as a senior, with 93 tackles), also running a 4.63-40 on a bad hamstring. That kind of production is more than worthy of a Practice squad spot.
OT/OG Nick Mondek (6' 5 3/4", 304, 33 3/8 inch arms, and 9 1/4 inch hands) - He was the Texans #195 pick this year, with TE like speed (4.84-40, 1.59-10 yard split, 7.30-3 cone drill, 4.55-20 yard shuttle, and 30 bench reps). He can play LOT, though his arms are just minimum length for a OT (but longer than Silatolu's, and around 1/3rd of the OT's at the Combine), but he might be best as a pulling LG.