For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no telling who that it’s naming.
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changing.
When those lyrics were written many years ago, it is highly unlikely that the 2010 Carolina Panthers were the subject. As a matter of fact, we all know they weren't, but right now there are no words more fitting for the Panthers and what lies ahead.
Coming off a horrible start and an incredible rebound, it was safe to assume that the Panthers would be on the rebound in 2010. It was even safer to assume that the Panthers would be on the rebound when the schedule was released.
Facing the 26th toughest schedule in the NFL, with their relative patterns considered the Panthers should be playoff bound. A small change here or a depth chart adjustment there and the Panthers would be well on their way. That was the belief shared by many fans.
Less than 10 days into the month of March the Panthers have undergone a change that has many people scratching their heads. Two of the cornerstones of the Panthers team—not offense or defense, but entire team—are gone. Things don't look like they'll slow down either.
Jake Delhomme, who had the worst season of his football life—not just NFL career—in 2009 is gone. Without warning, and just days after being told he would compete for the starting job for the 2010 season, Delhomme was given his walking papers. He will end up with another team.
Now Brad Hoover has been released. Hoover is a North Carolina native, a graduate of Western Carolina, and a career Panther. Not to mention a top tier fullback who has done more than block for many running backs over the years. He's been a featured back and a receiver. Now, though, he has been unceremoniously released.
There are a few schools of thought as to why this is happening. Some say it's because of the salary cap structure over the next year. Some say it's to free up room this year. Some say with one-year contracts being more common for 2010 John Fox is sending out his players to rejoin him somewhere new in 2011.
Whatever the case may be, nobody knows for sure what is coming. All we as Panthers fans know is that 2010 will be interesting. Until the season begins it seems that no one is safe. Will there be another big release? Another big signing? A huge trade nobody can see coming?
Delhomme, Peppers, and Hoover are just three already gone. Could Double Trouble (Williams and Stewart) be split up? Could Smith be traded away? Will Moose stay or will he go? How about Tyler Brayton, who said he'd be heartbroken if he wasn't re-signed? Richard Marshall, Captain Munnerlyn, and a slew of offensive and defensive linemen as well.
The times truly are changing in Carolina.