Yes. Kellen Winslow II. That guy. If you recall, Winslow II badly wanted to be a Panther. The Panthers at least looked into it but didn't seal the deal. Why? Do not say that it was money. Winslow signed with the Jets for $840,000. 1 year deal. No signing bonus. Only $555,000 against the cap. Do not say that it was for health reasons. The Panthers signed oft-injured Domenik Hixon as well as two offensive linemen who were released for health-related reasons (Travelle Wharton still wasn't 100% when he was from the Bengals, Chris Scott failed his physical with the Bills). Winslow II has attitude/character issues, but Gettleman's former franchise drafted Jeremy Shockey. And do not claim that Winslow II cannot play. He had 762 yards last season with Josh Freeman throwing him the ball. So today, Winslow II played a huge role in the Jets beating the Bucs with 7 catches for 79 yards and a TD with a rookie getting him the ball in a game where Winslow II and Geno Smith were pretty much the only ones who contributed on offense.
In fairness, the Panthers had not yet restructured deals to get salary cap space when Kellen Winslow II ultimately took the deal with the Jets in the middle of June. But it should not have mattered. The Panthers could have signed Winslow II in the early part of free agency, long before that time. Why didn't they? Apparently because the Panthers decided that signing any and every cheap defensive back was a higher priority than not having to rely on the Brandon LaFell taking the next step plus the health/development of the likes of David Gettis, Kealoha Pilares, Armanti Edwards, Joe Adams etc. to give the offense more guys than an aging Steve Smith and a good-but-not-great Greg Olsen to be able to consistently make plays in the passing game.
The decision to scoop up all of those placeholders at DB looks even worse considering what ultimately transpired. Drayton Florence, who arrived with much fanfare and was practically penciled in as the #1 CB and a veteran stabilizing presence on a young unit, was released during preseason. Mike Mitchell was brought in to be the starting strong safety, and it is only a matter of time when he will be replaced by Quintin Mikell. The strangest decision was to bring in D.J. Moore, who is third string along with UDFA Melvin White. Moore will cost the Panthers more under the salary cap this year than Winslow II will cost the Jets and so will Mitchell.
A cheap productive veteran from a division rival that would have really helped the offense wanted to come here, and the Panthers didn't pull the trigger because apparently bringing in DBs from Rivera's past teams in San Diego and Chicago was a bigger priority. Some of the blame goes to Rivera of course, but ultimately this is on Gettleman for blowing a real chance to upgrade the offense that was gift-wrapped and handed to him. And yes, getting Winslow II in here should have been a higher priority than taking care of someone that Gettleman knew from the Giants organization in Hixon. Hixon got the minimum salary slot that Winslow II should have gotten when Winslow II was a better player last year than Hixon has ever been, even when healthy.
I don't have a problem with claiming that getting Winslow II in the fold would have been enough to get the Panthers a victory today. Shula, Cam, Olsen, the secondary, Frank Alexander and DeAngelo Williams could have done some things differently today but not getting Winslow II in the fold is all on Gettleman. It is as if Gettleman (and possibly Rivera to be fair) were deluding themselves about the talent level on offense. He really cannot and should not be left off the hook for that.