Give Jake a Break: Delhomme, Carolina Panthers Doing Fine
There are two great things about free agency: One, if you need upgrades, free agency is a bountiful tool. Two, if your core of returning players is plentiful, young, and productive already, who needs free agency?
The Panthers find themselves in both of these positions. They do need to upgrade in two maybe three positions, and then get some solid draftees.
I officially declare myself a proponent of keeping Jake Delhomme as the starting quarterback, at least for this season. I am all about giving him the time that he has given this team in redeeming himself from that hideous game against the Cardinals.
While I agree the Panthers need to be instrumental in finding Jake's successor, I also find it best to keep him in his starting role for one more season.
I am also very happy with the Panthers free agency period so far. I was disappointed however, with the release of Nick Goings, but this is the nature of the NFL beast and salary cap casualties.
So today I want to try and raise everyone's spirits a little bit, and do a slide show on some of the growing talent the Panthers have already.
Keeping the Line Together: Jordan Gross
With a new six-year, $60 million contract in place, offensive tackle Jordan Gross, who will only be 29 years old in July, is a pillar of strength for the Panthers offensive line.
Creating Gaps: Jeff Otah
Monsters: That's what the Panthers have guarding their quarterback and creating gaps for the running game. Jeff Otah is as big as they come.
Suring Up the Defense: Chris Gamble
The Panthers did something very important before the season ended, and that was re-signing corner back Chris Gamble to a six-year contract extension.
By getting that out of the way early on, they were able to focus on working with Jordan Gross on a new deal.
Commanding the Defense: Jon Beason
Jon Beason, middle linebacker for the Panthers, had a solid season in '08, and looks to have an even better season in '09, as the Panthers retain a lot of their defensive line.
Hawking the Receivers: Charles Godfrey
Charles Godfrey didn't have a bad rookie season. It wasn't flashy, but it was solid.
Godfrey started all 16 games as a rookie, had 61 tackles, a sack a forced fumble, and an interception.
Burning Defenses: DeAngelo WIlliams
DeAngelo Williams had an outstanding '08 campaign.
The soon-to-be 26-year-old had 273 carries for 1,515 yards, and 18 rushing touchdowns. He also had 22 catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns.
He and Jonathan Stewart are well on their way to becoming one of the league's premier rushing threats.
The Right Hook: Jonathan Stewart
Jonathan Stewart became a force to be reckoned with on third and goal situations.
He almost broke 1,000 yards rushing in his rookie season as well, coming up short a mere 164 yards with 836 yards rushing.
Stewart put up 836 yards on 184 carries and 10 touchdowns. He also had eight catches for 47 yards and no scores.
Superman: Steve Smith
The man can leap up for a grab under double and triple coverage, is lightning fast, and is the heartbeat of the receiving core.