The release of Steve Smith sent the fanbase into a tailspin, which conveniently kept eyes off the fact the Panthers have been swinging and missing in the first week of free agency.
Plenty of time is left and scores of players remaining, which is to say the sky isn't falling. Here is the current status of Carolina's free agents -- it's pretty ugly.
QB Derek Anderson - Contract details not released
Rapid reaction: It's a move that conserves draft picks, nothing more. Anderson knows the offense and has proved reliable when needed. Sensible decision for a team needing to fill so many holes in the draft. Now there's no need to spend a mid-round pick on a backup QB.
CB James Dockery - Contract details not released
Rapid reaction: Dockery played really well in 2012 before injury sidelined him. This is a prove it deal and there's a chance he can start for the Panthers if healthy.
S Mike Mitchell - Signed with Pittsburgh - Five years, $25 million
Rapid reaction: Dave Gettleman wanted to keep Mitchell, but the price was too much. The Steelers got a pretty sweet deal based on low guaranteed money, but the safety wasn't special enough that a replacement can't be found in free agency.
WR Ted Ginn - Signed with Arizona - Three years, $9.75 million
Rapid reaction: Ginn became wholly overrated by the fan base hoping he could fill the void left by Steve Smith. He's a decent piece and special teams will suffer a loss by his departure, but he isn't so valuable that someone else can't step in. If Carolina select a wide receiver early in the draft it should be someone who can help the return game.
CB Captain Munnerlyn - Signed with Minnesota - Three years, $14.25 million
Photo via Dob Donnan - USA TODAY Sports
Rapid reaction: Good for Captain. The former Panther found a team to pay him like a starting outside cornerback and the Vikings will probably be let down when he's asked to cover Brandon Marshall or Alshon Jeffery. Losing Munnerlyn hurts, but if it meant paying him several million a year he's not worth it.
LB Jordan Senn - Signed with Chicago - Contract details not released
Rapid reaction: Senn is one of those guys you don't miss until he's gone, but don't confuse that with him being irreplaceable. Special teams coverage takes a hit, but a mid round draft pick should be able to fill the void without too much problem.
WR Domenik Hixon - Signed with Chicago - One year
Rapid reaction: Meh. He was inactive most of his time in Carolina, he might find a way to be a fourth or fifth option for the Bears. Doesn't move the needle.
OT Bruce Campbell - Signed with Washington - Contract details not released
Rapid reaction: It's whatever. The Panthers swung for the fences and learned he could never really play. If you can't factor in this team's offensive line you have problems.
QB Jimmy Clausen
DT Colin Cole
LB Dan Connor
CB Drayton Florence
TE Ben Hartsock
WR Brandon LaFell
S Quintin Mikell
G Travelle Wharton
LB Jason Williams
WR Hakeem Nicks
It's unclear whether the Panthers are interested. First they were, then they weren't Nicks' father said his son was joining the Panthers and rescinded it.
What we do know is that Nicks is meeting with the Indianapolis Colts on Friday. Carolina may have waited too long.
S Roman Harper
Former Saints' safety and Steve Smith enemy Roman Harper visited with the Panthers and left without a contract. It's tempting to make sweeping assumptions based on this, but the schrewd move could be to wait until teams spent their money then get Harper on the cheap.
WR James Jones
Photo via Jeff Hanisch - USA TODAY Sports
Joe Person reports the Panthers have shown interest in the Packers' wide receiver. Signing Jones would be a short-term option, but an awfully good one at the No.2 or No.3 spot.
WR Brandon LaFell
Panthers fans might not be enamored with his receiving ability, but the team are still interested in working with him. Now it's a case of what he could get on the open market after visiting with teams. I don't expect he'll last a long time, but holding off a little longer is the right move.