It's been twelve days since news emerged out of Philadelphia that free agent safety Quintin Mikell was being courted by the Carolina Panthers. Initially it felt like the deal would be done in a matter of hours, not days, as 'soon' became the descriptor for how quickly the two sides would join. Questions about Mikell's status with the Panthers has become a daily question on Twitter as the process dragged on, so it's apropos to discuss why there could be a delay.
For the league's top players free agency becomes a devastatingly easy process. Find the team offering as much money as possible, and sign on the dotted line. Sure, a player might sacrifice a little here of there to sign with a better team, but the main motivating factor is money.
The overall value of the contract, and guaranteed money is what entices players like Charles Johnson, and soon-to-be Greg Hardy -- but once a player passes the 30-year-old wall, things change. Realistically the best hopes for Mikell is to get a series of one-year contracts, or hope to find a desperate team willing to ink him for 2-3 years.
Herein lies the most likely hold up in negotiations: dollars and terms. If Dave Gettleman is only willing to offer a one-year, veteran minimum contract (which is likely given his cap sensibilities), then it doesn't behoove Mikell to sign immediately with the Panthers.
There are three factors that make this the case:
1. It's too early for a valuable player to sign
2. Carolina are a sub-500 team
3. There's no reason to rush back to training camp
Veterans are wily. If you've been in the league for over a decade then why rush to get yourself back into training camp? We can wax poetically about Spartanburg's heat being 'character building', but if given their druthers most vets would rather skip camp all together.
A minimum contract is a minimum contract -- wherever a player goes. At this point a 32-year-old Mikell would be better served by sitting at home, waiting for a player to get injured, and finding his way onto a better team than quickly choosing the Panthers. It's not a slight on the organization, it's an actuality of the business -- the same one that caused Jacoby Jones to choose the Baltimore Ravens last year.
If you're a Panthers fan who wants to see Mikell on the Panthers then you should hope that either Gettleman is willing to offer more money, and make Carolina too good to pass up -- or that injuries don't occur during camp or preseason (this is a pipe dream).
However, given the totality of the situation it might be best to sit this one out. Mikell would be the perfect addition to the Panthers, but not at the cost of burning rollover cap space they can't afford to burn. It's inconsequential whether the team plans to re-sign Hardy -- it's about digging the way out of a cap mess, and that's not done by making knee-jerk moves out of desperation. It would be far better for the front office to stick to their guns, keep the low offer on the table, and let Mikell make the move. This is most-likely what's happening, and why it's going to take patience from Panthers' fans.