|Crazy day! Williams, Davis and Anderson to return, Panthers to release John Kasay|
|Written by Steve Reed|
|Wednesday, 27 July 2011 17:10|
CHARLOTTE – The Carolina Panthers promised they’d be aggressive in free agency and they’ve stayed true to their word.
General manager Marty Hurney said the decision to go with Mare over Kasay was due in part to the NFL kickoff rule being moved up five yards to the 35-yard line. The Panthers only want to carry two kickers and Mare has more leg strength than Kasay.
Hurney said the Panthers informed Kasay they were going to go after a new kicker before they made the move. Hurney said he spoke with Kasay twice about the decision and said he “handled it like a professional.”
“Just like anybody he was surprised and had a thousand different emotions going through his body, like any of us would,” Hurney said. “It’s hard. This is the part of the job that's not very fun.”
Kasay, 41, ranks eighth on the all-time NFL scoring list with 1,823 points.
Mare, who’ll receive a four-year, $12 million contract, is only three years younger than Kasay, but still has good leg strength and has converted 73 of 83 field goal attempts the last three years with the Seattle Seahawks.
Re-signing Williams, 28, was the other big news of the day.
A Pro Bowl selection in 2009, Williams received offers from Denver and the New York Giants, but decided to stay in Carolina where he’ll continue to play alongside best friend and fellow running back Jonathan Stewart. Williams said Monday night on an online chat that his goal was to retire as a Panther.
"I love Carolina," Williams said on an interview with ESPN. "There was no reason for me to leave. Carolina gave me my first chance to play in the National Football League when 26 other teams passed me up. So my heart was definitely here. The only thing we had to get behind us was the numbers and we got those done. I’m glad to be back."
He also added: "I think we're going to be very competitive and Panthers fans are going to be very surprised this year."
Likewise, Davis and Anderson agreed to re-sign for five years. Anderson's deal is worth $22 million with $8.5 million guaranteed. Davis' deal was not immediately available.
“We had a core of guys this year that we needed to take care of as far as our own free agents and we wanted to make sure we extended those guys,” coach Ron Rivera said.
After Davis agreed to re-sign, he wrote on Twitter: "Time to take our NFC South crown back!!!!"
Of the free agent pickups, Edwards could have the biggest impact. The nose tackle signed a three-year, $8.25 million contract with the Panthers and Rivera said he has a good chance to start right away.
“He’s a big, stout, physical guy," Rivera said. "I think his influence and impact in that room will be very solid for our young guys. At the same time he will impact our linebackers. The one thing I said when I got here is we need to be more stout at the point of attack so our linebackers can run and play more downhill and make plays.
"In terms of watching Ron play on tape, that excites you. He’s gives us that veteran leadership that will help our young guys in the next couple of years develop.”
Hurney offered no updates on the status of wide receiver Steve Smith. He said he’s spoken to Smith but refused to say if the team is shopping him.
“I’m not getting into anything,” Hurney said. “We have communicated with them and we will continue to communicate and work through the situation as best we can. We will just keep working and communicating and things will work out.”
Hurney said the team’s goal moving forward is to re-sign linebacker Jon Beason and center Ryan Kalil to long-term contracts. Both are under contracts, but Hurney wants to make sure the core of the team remains intact.
“I think we feel good that we were able to keep the core,” Hurney said. “If you looked coming in and you included Ryan Kalil and Charles Johnson and DeAngelo Williams and James Anderson, I think any free agent list you looked at, those four guys were either at the top or near the top of those lists. I’d throw Thomas Davis in there too.
"I think I heard a lot of people say we wouldn’t be able to keep everybody. It’s our philosophy, and we have said it was our intention, to keep our core and that’s the philosophy we take. You feel good when you can accomplish that.”