Carolina Panthers Retrospective
Panthers expected to turn their attention toward re-signing their core players E-mail
Written by Steve Reed   
Friday, 26 February 2010 14:50
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DeAngelo Williams' contract is up after the 2010 season. (Photo by John Clark)

   CHARLOTTE – Having washed their hands of the financial albatross that had become Julius Peppers, the Carolina Panthers are expected to turn their attention toward signing many of their young core players over the next year.
   And you can expect a fairly long list of guys holding out their hands waiting for a pay raise.
   When Hurney talked about the decision to release Peppers, he did so knowing the team will need to come off the hip to sign other key contributors fairly soon, making the thought of investing $20 million this season in one player a tough one to swallow -- even in a year without a salary cap.

 

   After all, a budget is a budget.

   Basically, if the Panthers had put the franchise tag on Peppers – or even signed him to a long-term deal – it would have been difficult for the organization to afford to keep many of their other key up-and-coming free agents. 

   "I think we've drafted very well in recent years, and the makeup of our team right now -- we have  some very talented players -- and their future will have to be addressed at some point,” Hurney said. “All those factors come in to play.”

   The Panthers have four key restricted free agents this year -- linebacker Thomas Davis, cornerback Richard Marshall, quarterback Matt Moore and tight end Jeff King -- who’ll likely receive tender offers rather than long-term contract offers prior to March 4, but at some point down the road will need to sign to contract extensions.  The Panthers have eight unrestricted free agents this year, but none are considered huge priorities, although in a perfect world the team would probably like to keep defensive end Tyler Brayton, guard Keydrick Vincent and cornerback Dante Wesley. 

   Next year, more big decisions linger.

   The contract of running back DeAngelo Williams is up, along with center Ryan Kalil and defensive end Charles Johnson, all three of which figure to be key ingredients in the team’s success for years to come. And you can bet super agent Drew Rosenhaus will be beating down Hurney’s door sooner rather than later looking for a contract extension for one of his top young clients, middle linebacker Jon Beason. On top of all that, the Panthers may be looking to add a few pieces here and there this off-season via free agency, which will cost even more money.

   However, at this point the Panthers remain quiet.

   And it could stay that way until the NFL labor dispute begins to clear up. It’s no coincidence that the Panthers haven’t given out any long-term contract extensions since last spring when talks of a possible lockout in 2011 began to look like a real possibility. It doesn't make a whole lot of business sense to give Davis, Williams, Beason or Kalil big signing bonus money when you're not sure there will be football beyond 2010.

   “We have conversations, but I don't know,” Hurney said of the talks with some of the soon-to-be free agents. “I think that you have conversations, and there are a lot of things to figure out in terms of how things come together. At some point - whether it's now, whether it's down the road, whatever it is - I think that's definitely something we have to give a lot of attention to.”