After seeing all of the comments in the CSR threads, fanposts, and hearing callers on WFNZ, I decided that it was time for me to vent and provide my opinion on the matters of the off-season. You don’t need to agree with me or care what I’m saying, but you are reading this so let me go ahead and lay it out there.
No one loves Steve more than I do. I love this man. He is my favorite panther of all time, bar none (as a player, not as a person). He has had the most exciting career and it has been my pleasure to watch him dominate the field at BofA year after year. My favorite Steve Smith moment was the game (can’t remember who it was against) where he caught a middle range pass and was slammed by what seemed to be 4 guys. There was just a mound of people on the field and then all of a sudden Smith popped out of that heap and took it for a touchdown. This wasn’t a big game, it was a losing season and at that point with no chance for the playoffs (I know that doesn’t narrow it down for us), but what that showed me and what I will always remember is that Steve Smith doesn’t stop EVER. He deserves an invitation to the Hall and to our Ring of Honor when he does hang ‘em up.
All of that is said to say this: I am fine with Gettleman releasing Steve. I don’t know about the whole locker room, cancer situation. James did a good job with that write-up so you can read his for that analysis. What I do know is the following:
(1) Steve is 35 years old. In receiver years that is OLD. When you get this old, every year there is an ever increasing drop-off in performance. I saw it this year. Smith has his moments, I would expect nothing less, but all too often he was a non-factor. Next year he will be worse than he was this year, probably 500-600 yards for the season. The year after that he will be even worse. This is the way of the NFL for aging vets. Of course Steve doesn’t admit this, he probably doesn’t even realize it is happening. MJ didn’t realize it was happening. Jerry Rice didn’t either. But it happens to all great athletes.
(2) Steve Smith now shouldn’t be considered anything more than a number 2 receiver. I think we all agree on this point. Either way, with or without Smith, we needed a number 1 receiver. Do we really need this much anger and resentment towards Gettleman for releasing a #2 receiver due to both money and locker room problems? Steve only had 100 yards more than Lafell with 1 less TD last season. NO ONE is upset Lafell is leaving. Heck, if we brought Lafell back, with a draft pick, and Nicks than we have improved our team! (NOTE: I am not proposing we bring back Lafell)
I love Smith, but we aren’t releasing 2005 Steve, we are releasing a 35 year old #2 (at best) receiver who was going to cost too much money, took away leadership opportunities from our rising stars, and was an issue in the locker room. As many have said, great players on teams have been let go before and many will be let go in the future. This might be a first for the Panthers because we are so young and have had so few amazing players, but it won’t be the last. For me, I am sick of the Hurney way where we pay guys looonnnggg after they have become a detriment to them team and can’t produce. I would rather cut Steve Smith a year before we maybe should than to keep him a year too long. To me, that shows that Gettleman is moving this FO forward into a winning culture.
There seems to be an emerging panic on the part of many Panther fans that we haven’t already solved all of our problems with free agency signings. Anthony Collins, Captain Munnerlyn (who I know CSR readers are split on), Ted Ginn (I’m upset about that one too), Golden Tate, Mike Mitchell, and more of our coveted free agents are gone. Are we surprised?
I liked what another CSR member wrote in the comment section
"this off season is a result of a couple things. #1 Marty Hurney contracts. #2 1 year contracts. #3 Going 12-4…..if we had a losing season last year, nobody would be fighting for our losers." -primetimenc336
That is absolutely right. We went 12-4 last season. 12-4! Who thought that would happen? No one! Going into the season we had a shitty WR corps (especially cause no one thought Ginn would do anything and if you did you were either guessing or your lying), a shitty situation on the right side of our O-line, and we had no secondary. Does this sound familiar? With all of those problems and a deteriorating O-line, we still won 12 games. It was amazing and don’t you forget it.
Because of that success and the success of the players on 1 year contracts (who Gettleman got for cheap when no other GM saw their value) we can no longer afford them. Now they must be replaced. None of our guys who have left are irreplaceable. I think they were undervalued (which is why Gettleman got them) but I also think they were coached up by our staff and given an opportunity to play to their strengths. We had Mitchell come on the blitzes and in run support which he is good at, we had Ginn run deep routes which he is good at, we had Captain play in the slot, etc, etc.
There is no use clamoring for things that are gone. These players are gone, but I have faith that Gettleman will get new ones. Maybe not all of them are quite as good, maybe some of them are better. But we won’t be signing any big name guys until at least a week or 2 into this FA period. That is when the prices start to come down and when value can be found. Stop stressing, at least wait until after the draft to see who we find. Which brings me to my next point…
I cannot wait for this (like many of you)! We honestly don’t know if Gettleman is a good GM or not yet but I am leaning towards great based upon last off-season. Now I want to see what he can do with low round picks. We aren’t getting a Star this year, but we can land some very good players. We have 7 picks and a lot of holes to fill so BPA all the way down is definitely the way. The only positions you don’t get are C, MLB, QB, or RB (maybe late in the draft you find a bruiser so we have that player and our scat back for the future). Any other position we need players. I’m not sold we should get another OG due to using two high picks the last two years on guys who got injured, so we don’t really know if we are set at that position or not.
PREDICTIONS FOR 2014-15 SEASON
I think the Panthers will take a small step back next year. I don’t think we can fix all of the problems on the roster this off-season, and I think its unrealistic to expect that any GM could. I think we still have a winning season (which would be AMAZING to have 2 in a row finally) and are a wild card team or win the division and play in the 1st round. The Saints are taking a step back and rebuilding, Atlanta will be better from getting healthy, and TB can only go up with a new coach and some players they have signed.
Needless to say, this is and will continue to be a very exciting off-season. I just hope all of you CSR folks can CALM THE FUCK DOWN and get off Gettleman’s ASS! We don’t know how good he is yet, but you have to give him the benefit of the doubt given last season. The team over-performed due to him picking up undervalued players and Rivera and his staff coaching players up. It is an exciting time to be a Panther fan so hold on to your hats and enjoy the off-season. See you all in Spartenburg.