Youth Movement in Carolina Is Not What John Fox Needs

By clemsoncannon  |   Friday, March 12, 2010  |  Comments( 0 )

Carolina Panthers
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The Carolina Panthers are in the midst of a bona fide youth movement entering the 2010 season. So far this offseason they have shown several veteran players, many with large contracts, the door. Their complete lack of activity in the free agent market would seem to indicate that they are going to be content to hand the reins to a much younger, and inexperienced, team on both sides of the ball in 2010. At this point the Panthers have exactly 3 projected starters over the age of 30 (Steve Smith, Muhsin Muhammed and John Kasay). With head coach John Fox and GM Martey Hurney entering the final year of their contracts 2010 would seem to be a must-win season for both of their futures with the team. With 2010 being an uncapped year, I'm not sure a youthful rebuilding year is what they need at this point.

I understand the logic behind their decision to cut ties with Jake Delhomme. He has been absolutely awful since that horrendous playoff loss to Arizona after the 2008 season. Given that, his contract was simply not justified. Matt Moore earned the right to lead this team by going 4-1 at the end of last season including wins over the Vikings, Giants and Saints. However, since it is an uncapped year and the team is on the hook for $12.5 million in guaranteed money anyway, it may have made sense to keep Jake for one more season to back up Moore. He knows the system and probably would have been the best option in this case due to the lack of talented veteran QB's in free agency.

I also understand the logic behind letting Julius Peppers walk away in free agency. You can't argue with his talent level but his play was too inconsistent to justify the contract. The money saved by not signing him could pay for 2-3 lesser known but productive players. The team still has two very talented DE's in Everette Brown and Charles Johnson.

The team has also parted ways with fan favorite FB Brad Hoover. Hoover has been with the team for 10 years and is a fierce blocker. Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams are both quick to credit Hoover as a big reason that this tandem both topped 1100 yards last season. Yes Hoover's age will start being a factor soon. But his contract is modest by most standards and he showed last season that he can still get the job done. I don't expect him to be unemployed for long.

Also gone are LB's Landon Johnson and Na'il Diggs which leaves the LB corps dangerously thin at this point. DT's Maake Kemoeatu and Damione Lewis are also gone which means that 3/4 of the projected starters on the defensive line from last year are now gone.

The real head scratcher in all of this is the team's lack of activity in the free agent market. After shedding all of these contracts it would seem that they have money to spend but so far they have not done so. Who is going to start at both DT positions? Who is going to start at strong side linebacker? Who is going to back up Matt Moore? None of these questions seem to have an answer at this point.

Anquan Boldin was traded to the Baltimore Ravens for a 3rd round draft pick. The Panthers were never named as a potential trade partner for Boldin. Maybe Boldin would have been too expensive, but it certainly would have been worth a 3rd round pick to explore the possibility of teaming Boldin with Steve Smith to give the team that elusive 2nd receiving option that they have been unable to find for the past several seasons.

Granted it is still very early in the preseason movements and many things could change before training camp starts. But it seems to me at this point the Panthers have more questions than answers.
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