I imagine things haven't gone exactly to plan but to put this one signing in the context of desperation reveals yet another national pundit pretending to know what a franchise is trying to do.
Carolina Panthers: Roman Harper Signing a Mistake by Dave Gettleman
However, since the Hardy re-signing, Gettleman has been digging himself into a hole and now has no discernible way out. They say when you find yourself in a hole it’s best to stop digging, but Gettleman just won’t stop. After letting Steve Smith go (and in the same act ruining all hopes for a solid passing game) he now has spent millions of valuable cap space on the aging Harper in a vain attempt to bring back some of the talent lost in the secondary.
Spent millions? It was $4.5M over two years. I guess technically he is correct but it's one signing. As far as saying Harper is aging, well he's 31 which is younger than Drayton Florence. By the way, isn't everyone aging? Yet he continues:
There are numerous problems with the Harper signing, and they all reveal flaws in the Panthers’ current offseason strategy. Harper has never been a playmaker (only recording seven interceptions for his entire career) but has shown strong potential for deflections and tackles in the past. However, despite coming away with 115 tackles, two interceptions and 11 deflected passes in the 2012 season, he fell off the face of the planet in 2013. During last season, largely due to a knee injury, he only played nine games, recorded a mere 39 tackles, had one interception and a single pass deflected. By looking at these numbers it is clear that Gettleman hopes that Harper will return to his former glory in the 2014 season and that last year’s drop off was a fluke.
If being limited by a knee injury constitutes a 'fluke' then I guess it was a fluke. Besides if he's not healthy he won't make it out of camp. If you look back at his history up until last year the guy missed only two starts in six seasons. I like the chances of him coming back strong, rather being over the hill as this guy suggests.
However, Harper is not getting any younger, and appears that age is taking its toll. Not only that, but signing a safety is not at all what Carolina needs to be doing right now. The Panthers still have a solid defense, but their offense is in shambles. Gettleman appears to believe that a strong defense will make up for a weak offense, but just because it worked in 2013 doesn’t mean it will work in the future. Not only that, but the Panthers’ offense is worse than it was last year.
Again, nobody is getting any younger and 31 is not as old as this guy is making it out to be. How is it we DON'T need a safety given we very little behind Charles Godfrey on the roster? Colin Jones or Russell Anderson to start anyone? I do like Robert Lester and think he could be a bona fide starter some day but I'm ready for that just yet.
Overall this is just a knee jerk reaction from a guy that doesn't know anymore than you or me. Maybe we land a couple OTs and WRs in the draft. Is the offense still going to worse than last year? He sure thinks so.
Here's a more level-headed analysis on the Harper signing:
Report: Roman Harper, Carolina Panthers agree to deal - NFL.com
Harper essentially replaces Mike Mitchell, an enforcer at safety that left for a big-money deal in Pittsburgh. Harper has a similar skill set as a big hitter that is a liability in coverage. Despite his gray hair, Harper is just 31 years old. We've already hit the bargain-shopping portion of free agency, and Carolina found a worthwhile gamble. The Panthers need competent players that can take snaps because Gettleman is practically starting from scratch in the secondary again.
Harper plays in the box with Lester backing him up while Godfrey plays free safety. It makes sense provided Harper's knee checks out which it must have for it to get this far.