Carolina's Five Worse Free Agent Signings Ever
A franchise that prides itself in practicing financial prudence, the Carolina Panthers are not known for giving out bloated contracts and overpaying for top-flight free agents.
Instead, the franchise has built itself upon signing those under-the-radar free agents and snagging still productive veterans who had been cut for salary cap purposes.
But even with some of the NFL’s more fiscally responsible franchise, mistakes are made and bad contracts are given out. Here is a look at the five worse free agent signings all-time for the Carolina Panthers.
5. Todd Steussie, OT
The Panthers signed Steussie to a six-year, $28 million contract before the 2001 season. That year, the Panthers finished 1-15 and Steussie was a part of an offensive line that allowed a team record 29 sacks.
Two years later, in a season of alleged steroid abuse by Steussie, the offensive lineman helped the Panther reach the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.
Looking for cap sapce, Steussie was released In 2004. He signed with the Tampa in the offseason and finished his career in 2008, playing for the Rams.
4. Ken Lucas, CB
Brought over to be a "shutdown" corner, Lucas inked a lucrative six-year, $36 million deal and joined the Panthers in 2005. He lived up to the hype his first season, finishing with 69 tackles, six interceptions and 15 pass deflections.
But things went downhill after that as Lucas finished with only seven interceptions combined over the next three seasons and was consistently being beat in coverage.
In 2009, seven months after being punched in the face by WR Steve Smith during practice, Carolina released Lucas and freed up $2.3 million in cap room. He later signed with the Seahawks, finishing with 34 tackles and one interception through 16 games.
3. Reggie White, DE
An NFL legend, the Panthers coaxed the 38-year-old Reggie White out of retirement in 2000 to beef up a defense that ranked No. 26 in the NFL with just 35 sacksa season ago. White’s incentive laced contract could earn him up to $20 million over five years.
But the comeback last just one season. White retired in 2001 and finished with 5.5 sacks and 15 tackles. He only about 25 snaps a game in his lone season with the Panthers.
2.Chuck Smith, DE
Chuck Smith finished the 1999 season with 48 tackles, 10 sacks and three forced fumbles for the Falcons before signing a five-year, $21 million contract with Carolina.
Smith's career in Charlotte lasted only two games before he was sidelined a knee injury. The Panthers cut ties with Smith a year later. He never played in the NFL again.
1. Sean Gilbert, DT
The Panthers acquired Redskins franchise free agent Gilbert in 1997for first-round picks in 1999 and 2000 after the Panthers successfully signed Gilbert to a seven-year, $46.5 million contract.
Gilbert was a Pro Bowler for the Redskins, compiling three sacks and 68 in his first season there. His success carried over with the Panthers, as Gilbert totaled 103 tackles and nine sacks in his first two seasons.
But injuries cut short the rest of Gilbert’s Panther career. He missed seven games in 2001 due to a knee injury and another eight games in 2002 after he injured his hip.
He finished with just 28 tackles and three sacks his final two seasons with Carolina. Gilbert was released that offseason.