Best and Worst Moves of Carolina Panthers Free Agency so Far
The Carolina Panthers have gone about free agency rather quietly this year. That is to be expected when there is no free money to spend. However, that has not stopped them from making a small deal here and there to shore up their roster for the 2013 season.
Carolina had some pressing needs prior to the start of the free-agency signing period with some of those being outlined as retaining Captain Munnerlyn (via Fox Sports) and bringing back Dwan Edwards. As it stands now, only one of those things has happened.
It is difficult to highlight the best signings of free agency for the Panthers when there has been very little to be excited about. Granted, Munnerlyn was a small victory but his deal is for only one year. While the positives will be discussed, it should be noted they will lack the grandeur other teams have experienced so far in the new league year.
Best Move: Bolstering the Cornerback Position
If there was a position on the defense that could rival the defensive tackle spot in terms of vulnerability, it would be the secondary.
Carolina earned a small victory Wednesday when it was announced that Captain Munnerlyn would be returning (via FOX Sports) for another season. While the need for top-tier cornerback is still prevalent, it makes the current set up a little more tolerable.
After all, Munnerlyn and Josh Norman did an admirable job last year as the starting corners and should look to build upon last year's success.
Unfortunately, the Panthers could be in a position where they might lose Munnerlyn next season and if he has a breakout year in 2013, it is doubtful the Panthers will be able to retain him.
That brings us to the Drayton Florence signing.
While signing Florence seems like an insignificant signing compared to some of the other big names scooped up on the market, this move was a necessary one for the Panthers. In light of a severely depleted cornerback unit, Florence brings a veteran presence and experience to the team.
Another veteran was brought on board when D.J. Moore was signed to a one-year deal. The former fourth-round pick in the 2009 draft spent the first three years of his career with the Chicago Bears where he recorded 10 interceptions.
Moore and Florence's time with the Panthers may be short lived but if they can provide solid play during the 2013 season, their acquisitions will prove to be couple of Dave Gettleman's best signings.
Worst Move: Being Unable to Lock Up Dwan Edwards
For a position that has lacked a solid, durable starter for the past few seasons many felt the Panthers would address the problem in last year's draft. Instead they went a different direction and used free agency to fix a glaring need on the defense.
Dwan Edwards was brought in on a one-year deal last season with the job of adding depth to a very weak interior defensive line. He did more than that by recording six sacks in 2012, which was second behind Ndamukong Suh among defensive tackles.
Edwards has expressed an interest in returning to Carolina but the Panthers have only made a one-year offer, which is the opposite of what he wants. Edwards is looking for a long-term deal, but the lack of cap room has hurt their chances of bringing back the one bright spot on their defensive interior.
While he has yet to sign, the possibility remains Edwards could return to the Panthers. Carolina has not indicated they are ready to give up on him. For now, it is a matter of wait and see. If he does return, then the focus of this slide can be changed to a good move.
Best Move: Retaining Derek Anderson
Earlier in the offseason, it was speculated about where Derek Anderson would end up. After former offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski was hired as the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns, it seemed Anderson would follow him there in hopes of having a legitimate shot at starting for the team.
What promoted the speculation to run rampant was the comments made from Anderson himself, as he made a mention of how great it would be to return to Cleveland.
In the the end, he signed another one-year contract to remain as Cam Newton's backup for the third straight season. In an offseason that has lacked a lot of excitement, this move was huge as it provided the team with continuity at quarterback and eased the minds of the fans who feared that third-string quarterback Jimmy Clausen would be the one to assume the backup role.
Fortunately, these concerns can be put on the back burner for another year as the contracts for both Anderson and Clausen expire at the end of the 2013 season.
Worst Move: Tying Up Too Much Money in Big Contracts
This would seem to be unfair to Dave Gettleman as he was not the architect of the mega deals that were signed to keep the likes of Charles Johnson, DeAngelo Williams and Jon Beason in Carolina. While his predecessor deserves all the blame, one could point the finger at owner Jerry Richardson for signing off on it and hamstringing the team in this year's market.
The worst part is that the running back unit alone has $89.211 million committed to it. That is a lot of money to be invested in three running backs. Bleacher Report's own Knox Bardeen wrote an article earlier this week that suggested how the Panthers should trade away Williams in order to give Carolina some breathing room.
While the Panthers have been able to restructure some of their veteran players' contracts, there is very little room to acquire any big-money free agents.
Adding to the mess is the desire of defensive end Greg Hardy to sign an extension. While this would normally be a great thing for the team and the fanbase, the sad reality is there is no money to lock up Hardy to a long-term deal.
Gettleman may opt to use the franchise tag on Hardy next year but until then, the talented pass-rusher will have to play under his rookie contract.
Best Move: Providing Reason to Be Optimistic About Future Signings
The Carolina Panthers are by no means done with signing players they feel will help the team next season. While they have been focusing primarily on their secondary, there is reason to believe the Carolina front office is not done pursuing certain players.
One of these players is Ted Ginn, Jr.
Earlier in the week, Ron Rivera made no effort to hide his excitement about the prospect of having Ginn join the Panthers after the former Ohio State standout interviewed with the team and was offered a contract.
On Thursday, it was reported that Ginn signed a one-year deal with the Panthers and should fill the vacancy left by Louis Murphy. This should be promising to frustrated fans who know that the Panthers missed out on some free agency's biggest names at wide receiver.
Ginn could provide not only a receiving role but he could be the answer to the Carolina return game as he has experience playing special teams. His presence could prove valuable to Joe Adams who is still learning and could benefit from having a quality returner on the roster to learn from.
This shouldn't be the last signing. If anything, the Panthers will try to sign a few more players either before or after the draft to improve the team as a whole. With some quality players that can be had at a cheap price, the Panthers could be able to land a couple before they are finished.
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