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Jon Beason is the heart and soul of the Panthers defense
Those who follow the Panthers are very familiar with the term "core." Owner Jerry Richardson and GM Marty Hurney have been working on a plan since before the dreadful night Jake Delhomme forgot how to play football (see: Panthers vs. Cardinals, Divisional round, Jan. 10, 2009).
Their philosophy went something like this: The owners are going to opt out of the CBA, and there will be major overhauls with the salary structures of the new agreement. Be ready for that day; we need to cut payroll, go young, recognize who our young talented players are, sign them long term and make strategic moves to fill in the holes.
In a nutshell, this is exactly what they have done.
Fans were outraged at the way the last two seasons have gone, and it was a tough pill to swallow, but at least for 2011, Richardson and Hurney could come out smelling like roses.
The front office has used the term, "core" players over the last two years. This is a group that includes DeAngelo Williams, Charles Johnson, Jon Beason, Thomas Davis, Ryan Kalil and a few others as well. Williams and Johnson were the only free agents of that group, and they got them locked up this week.
Now the team will move on to Beason and Davis, who are both still under contract for this year, and try to lock them up with long-term deals as well.
Then, that leaves Kalil. Kalil was slapped with the franchise tag this year, so he is the Panthers' for 2011. However, Hurney will undoubtedly get to work on negotiating a long-term deal with him as well. Kalil has been to two straight Pro Bowls and is regarded by many as the best young center in the league.