Panthers Release Jake Delhomme: Let the Matt Moore Era Begin?

Kevin Roberts@BreakingKevinSenior Writer IMarch 5, 2010

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 03:  Quarterback Matt Moore #3 of the Carolina Panthers jogs on the field during the game against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

After seven years as the starting quarterback for the still-only 15-year old Carolina Panthers, Jake Delhomme will officially be searching for a new city to call home.

Jay Glazer reported via Twitter late on Thursday night that the Panthers would release Jake Delhomme, effectively making Matt Moore the favorite to start at quarterback in 2010.

After a 50-31 record and a Super Bowl appearance, Delhomme has finally hit rock bottom. It took a horrendous six-turnover game in a playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals in 2008 for the Panthers to start realizing Delhomme was slipping, but a horrible 2009 told them the rest.

Delhomme threw just eight touchdowns to 18 interceptions in 11 starts with the Panthers in 2009, finishing the season with a four-interception game, before injuring his finger and missing the final five games of the season.

Matt Moore, Delhomme's expected replacement for 2010 (and possibly the long-term), took over in Week 13 and led the Panthers to an impressive 4-1 record to end the season, helping the Panthers appear to be a playoff-type team, despite not being able to qualify for the postseason.

Moore helped the Panthers to a win in his first start, playing efficient (albeit not spectacular) football, en route to a 16-6 win over the Buccaneers, and then followed that win up with a solid performance in a close battle with the New England Patriots (in which they lost).

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It took an unlikely win over the Minnesota Vikings at home for Moore to really breakout and cause some heads to turn, as he threw three touchdowns, no picks, and 299 yards in an impressive 26-7 win over the Vikings.

Moore followed that performance up with another three-touchdown effort against the New York Giants, and ended his five starts with eight passing touchdowns, just two interceptions, over 1,000 yards, and 98.5 quarterback rating.

So, the question now is, are the Panthers letting Delhomme go because they want Moore to know they fully back him, or because they're pondering a move for a guy like Michael Vick?

Vick has reportedly said that Carolina would be his choice of destination if he had a choice, although the Carolina brass has routinely suggested character and image as things of high importance on their team, especially at the quarterback position.

Throw in the fact that the Panthers had recently tendered Moore with a first and third-round pic, and it's quite clear that Carolina is hell-bent on keeping the former Oregon State product around.

"I've never thought that they didn’t think highly of me," said Moore. "But something like this speaks loud and clear how they feel. It’s good to know. Carolina is the place to be."

Indeed, at least for Matt Moore, it's beginning to look that way.

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