Tag:Carolina Panthers
Posted on: August 12, 2011 1:17 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 6:26 pm
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Bills trade Lee Evans to Ravens for 4th-rounder

Posted by Will Brinson

Lee Evans, on the trading block for just over 24 hours, has a new home: the Baltimore Ravens.

We speculated earlier that the Panthers, Dolphins, Ravens and Cardinals could be interested in trading for Evans, but Baltimore announced on Friday that they had dealt a 2012 draft pick in exchange for Evans.

"He’s a quality veteran receiver who stretches the field and gives us a significant downfield presence," Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said Friday. "He's the type of person you want on your team. He brings leadership and maturity to the locker room."

Ravens Preseason

Per Adam Schefter of ESPN, that draft pick is a fourth-round selection.

It's not a tremendous haul for Buffalo, per se, but they were able to unload a receiver who's underperformed for most of his career in a market that saw a heavy need for wide receivers.

Evans also won't be leaned on in Baltimore the way he was in Buffalo (at least prior to the emergency of our Super Bowl buddy and would-be rapper Stevie Johnson) thanks to the presence of Anquan Boldin, which should make him a much more viable threat.

Plus, despite what Ravens fans think of Joe Flacco, it's pretty clear he's an upgrade over either Trent Edwards or Ryan Fitzpatrick.

For the Ravens, this is a huge move -- it was noted that rookie Torrey Smith struggled during Thursday night's action, and receiver was a clear-cut need for Baltimore as the season nears.

Now they've addressed it, and if Evans can produce, he'll be a tremendous value in exchange for a fourth-rounder.

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Posted on: August 12, 2011 10:51 am
 

David Gettis tears ACL, no Lee Evans for Carolina

Posted by Will Brinson

We've speculated here -- and at length on Twitter -- that the Panthers should have been interested in Jerricho Cotchery, who eventually signed with the Steelers, because of their need for veteran wide receiver depth.

That need grew exponentially on Friday, when it was learned that second-year wideout David Gettis would miss the entire 2011 season with a torn ACL.

This is a huge blow for Carolina, and not just because Gettis was primed -- if the Panthers could generate some quarterback play -- to break out in the coming year.

Their depth at wideout is questionable at best, as after Steve Smith (who's already suffering from a serious finger injury) comes Gettis, than Brandon LaFell, followed by Armanti Edwards (!) and the decent-but-not-startable Legedu Naanee/David Clowney combo.

So, yeah, Cotchery would have been nice. So would Buffalo's Lee Evans, whom the Bills are rumored to be interested in dealing.

The problem is that the Bills, according to Panthers Rapid Reporter Steve Reed at the Gaston Gazette, reportedly want a third-rounder for Evans. Reed reports that "there was some initial interest from the Panthers" but that it's highly unlikey the Panthers will pursue the 30-year-old Evans.

That's primarily because of the cost for Evans, even though he'd be a huge upgrade for Carolina heading into 2011. Additionally, there's a solid chance that Buffalo can stir up a little bidding war for the deep-threat wideout.

As our own Ryan Wilson noted yesterday, there are plenty of teams -- the Ravens, the Dolphins, and the Cardinals most notably -- who still need wide receiver help.

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Posted on: August 11, 2011 8:57 am
 

John Kasay pens heartfelt letter to fans

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

John Kasay spent 16 years with the Panthers as their place-kicker, but last week, he was released in favor of the team signing Olindo Mare. But Kasay doesn’t have hard feelings to the squad he joined in 1995. Instead, as he prepares to continue on with his life, he was determined to let the city of Charlotte know how he and his family feel about it.

So, he dropped off a letter at the Charlotte Observer’s office for columnist Scott Fowler, and he asked Fowler to disseminate the letter to as many people as possible. In short, it’s an awesome note.

Writes Kasay:

Dear Panther fans,

I wanted to personally write this letter to every Carolina Panther fan. Words cannot express how truly thankful my family and I are for the most wonderful 16 years of our lives.

We came to the Panthers as a young family with a 3-month-old baby. We leave with 4 children, 2 of whom are in high school. In between, you have loved and cheered and blessed us way more than we ever deserved. The only thing I could offer in return was the promise that I would try my best, every day, to make you proud.

Thank you for your encouragement when I failed. Thank you for the celebrations when we won. And most of all, thank you for letting me leave with a treasure trove of memories that time cannot erase.

It is my hope that the greatest years in Panthers history are still to come. A franchise decorated with numerous Lombardi Trophies. Dozens of Hall of Fame players. And a region that swells with pride whenever they speak of their beloved Panthers.

It has been a tremendous privilege to live in Charlotte, to play for the Carolina Panthers, and to be able to share my lifelong dream of playing in the NFL with all of you.

I pray that this will be a wonderful season and we will all get to watch the Panthers return to their rightful place as one of the most feared teams in the NFL.

May God bless you. Thank you again for the memories.

Blessings,

John Kasay


Very cool way to say thanks and goodbye to the people who watched you for the last decade and a half.

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Posted on: August 9, 2011 6:27 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 7:00 pm
 

Jimmy Clausen tops Panthers first depth chart

Posted by Will Brinson

One of the more interesting quarterback battles to watch this preseason will be Jimmy Clausen and recently-made-rich rookie Cam Newton, as they battle out for the top spot on the Panthers depth chart.

For now, Clausen appears to be winning, as he topped the Panthers first "unofficial depth chart" released by the team on Tuesday.

That's not a guarantee for the majority of playing time, however, as coach Ron Rivera indicated Tuesday that they could flip-flop between starters throughout the preseason.

"We want to see how each guy looks with each offensive line," Rivera said. "It would be unfair to have one guy with the ones, one guy with the twos, one guy play against a one defense, the other guy play against a two defense and say one looks better.

"So we're most certainly going to mix and match, and we have to so it's a fair competition."

Panthers Preseason

Rivera also made it clear he hadn't picked a starter for the preseason opener against the Giants.

"No," Rivera said when asked about the starter for Saturday's game. "We're going to meet tonight as far as that is concerned in terms of who's going to play where, what the depth chart will be and what the number of plays will be."

So, in other words, it means very little that Clausen is currently on top of the depth chart. And it may mean even less if he ends up starting against the Giants.

All that matters, one has to assume, is in-game production. And we already know who's to blame for that.

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Posted on: August 9, 2011 1:32 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 3:59 pm
 

Steve Smith leaves practice with finger injury

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

UPDATED (2:58 p.m. ET): According to the Charlotte Observer's Joe Person, the X-rays on Steve Smith's finger were negative.

UPDATED (3:57 p.m. ET): CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco, embedded Tuesday with the Panthers, writes that Smith said he dislocated his finger and that he'll need stiches. Smith estimated he'd be out of action for 7-10 days.

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Reports coming out of Panthers camp, including that of Rapid Reporter Steve Reed, are stating that WR Steve Smith had to be carted out of practice because of an injury, though the Charlotte Observer’s Joe Person reports that Smith is suffering from only a finger injury. Smith

Smith walked off the field under his own power following his apparent injury. But then, he was carted back to the team locker room, presumably for observation, leading to temporary confusion among the press corps.

Person then tweeted that Smith was getting an X-ray on his finger.

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Posted on: August 7, 2011 11:28 am
 

Smith points finger at Fox for dwindling output

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It wasn't long ago that the Panthers' Steve Smith was considered one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the game. In recent years, however, his output has fallen off a cliff. He hauled in 78 passes for 1,421 yards in 2008 only to see his yards receiving drop by 439 yards from 2008 to 2009, and it dropped another 428 yards from '09 to '10 (to a six-year low of 554).

Smith's dwindling production coincides with Carolina's three-year slide from playoff team to one of the worst outfits in the league. Also not helping: the revolving door at quarterback; Jake Delhomme was released after the 2009 season, and Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen combined for two wins in 2010. Now it's only a matter of time before 2011 first-overall pick Cam Newton finds the field.

It's a culmination of all these things, as well as the conservative system former head coach John Fox seemed to favor -- not Smith's age -- that had everything to do with decidedly pedestrian numbers. At least that's the story Smith's telling.

"I respect coach Fox and I respect the offensive coordinators that have been here," Smith said, according to the Charlotte Observer. "But at the same time I'm a wide receiver. Run blocking is not my forte.

"It is nice to have layers, have multiple sets, not to just be stacking to one spot for 70 plays," Smith said of Carolina's new offense now under the direction or Rob Chudzinski. "I get to line up in different spots. It's just refreshing. It's not saying, 'Well, we're going to move you around,' and then never do it. Here they're actually saying it and it's happening. It's not just me. It's other guys as well."

The Panthers are making a conscious decision to move away from Fox's run-first scheme. Last week the organization traded for former Bears tight end Greg Olsen, and Newton wasn't selected first overall to hand the ball off.

"The quarterbacks are doing what has not been done around here in a long time. The philosophy in years past has been not to screw it up," Smith said. "And here it's put your foot down on the gas pedal and go hard. So I like that."

One of the liberating things about going 2-14 in 2010 is that there isn't much pressure on the Panthers in 2011. New head coach Ron Rivera isn't yet on the hot seat (though we imagine it's only a matter of time), and expectations couldn't be lower. In that sense, it's a great time to be a Carolina fan. (Okay, that was a bit much, even for us.)

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Posted on: August 4, 2011 9:00 pm
 

Eye on Football's free agency winners and losers



Posted by Will Brinson

Free agency isn't done yet (you can follow the latest updates at our 2011 NFL Free Agency Tracker) but wow, what a freaking week that initial run was, huh?

We saw big names sign big contracts in surprising places, we saw various players value drop tremendously and we saw the Carolina Panthers spend eleventy billion dollars*. Well, a full week in, it's about time for some knee-jerk winner/loser reactions, yes?

WINNERS
Philadelphia Eagles: There's no way around it -- the Eagles are the biggest winner in free agency. The last-second signing of the biggest free agent cornerback, Nnamdi Asomugha, guarantees that, especially when coupled with their ability to pawn off backup Kevin Kolb for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick and then pick up Vince Young to replace him. Also, they signed everyone else available. Or that's what it feels like.

Carolina Panthers: Well, maybe "Charles Johnson/DeAngelo Williams" is a better way of putting it, because they got straight paid. So did Thomas Davis, by the by. But in general, the Panthers stepped up in a big way by bringing back a ton of their players and convincing Steve Smith to hang around and kick off the Cam Newton Era. (Yes, it warrants mentioning that Newton's reduced contract is how they're able to afford all these guys.) Even if they don't win their division -- and it's unlikely they will -- they're still reinvigorating a fanbase that was pretty complacent after last year.

Rams/Lions: Everyone who roots for these teams keeps asking why they're not spending money, and that's exactly why they're winners -- they recognized that now's not the time to go out and blow up the plan by spending a pile of cash on a big-name free agent. Both teams landed quality guys (Eric Wright for Detroit, Harvey Dahl for the Rams, to name a pair) and I'd add the Buccaneers in here but anyone who spends $19 million on a punter isn't winning.

Houston Texans: The fact that Houston was able to pick up front-seven defensive help in the draft (J.J Watt) and then swoop in on Johnathan Joseph is huge. Even more impressive? That they realized when it was time to cut bait on chasing Nnamdi and nab Joseph, therefore giving them a top-flight cornerback and a serious chance to compete and/or win the AFC South.

Roger Goodell/DeMaurice Smith: After teetering on the brink of becoming the two most-hated men in a world that features no football, Goodell and Smith rallied their troops, repaired their relationship and got a deal done that will provide labor peace for the next decade. As a result, traffic, interest and excitement for football picked up right where it left off after an amazing 2010 season. They really should just pair up for a US presidential run in 2012.

LOSERS
Rookie quarterbacks: Christian Ponder and Jake Locker were supposed to be starters coming out of the gate. Um, not so much -- it sure looks like they're going to be sitting behind Donovan McNabb and Matt Hasselbeck during 2011. The only two rooks who have serious shots at taking early snaps are Andy Dalton and Cam Newton, and that's only because they are actually the best quarterbacks on their team.

Oakland Raiders: It would be one thing if they just lost Nnamdi. But they also lost tight end Zach Miller, who had previously been franchised. Topping it all off? They lost Miller because they shelled out $48 million for Kamerion Wimbley. Every time you think things are changing in Oak-town, they stay the same. /Googles "Weekend at Bernie's" clips

Linebackers: Well, linebackers not named Paul Posluszny, anyway. Poz is a nice addition to the Jaguars but I'm not entirely sure they should have given him $7 million a year over six years with $15 million guaranteed, especially with other available talent on the market. That available talent -- Nick Burnett, Stephen Tulloch and Manny Lawson, most notably -- ended up getting one-year deals as a result of the market swing after the Jags' overpaid.

New York Jets: The Jets made a lot of moves and nearly grabbed Nnamdi, but losing him isn't why they're on this side of the list. They're here because they paid a lot for Santonio Holmes and still saw the overall quality of their receiving corps drop drastically. In addition, they had to give $32 million to Antonio Cromartie in order to shore up the other side of their secondary. They'll probably end up going to the AFC Championship Game (again) and we'll hear plenty of Super Bowl guarantees, but this is an offense that could struggle in 2011.

Miami Dolphins: The Fins made a splash by trading for Reggie Bush, but, um, yeah, about that quarterback situation. When was the last time you heard fans chanting for Kyle Orton? Things are going to get ugly before they get pretty in South Beach, and if their chances at landing someone who can compete for the starting QB gig went so poorly that Brett Favre has to come in, well, you don't need me telling you whether they won or lost.

* Approximate. OK, I made that number up but either way, the Panthers dropped a lot of coin.

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Posted on: July 29, 2011 6:46 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2011 10:16 pm
 

Cam Newton signs $22M guaranteed contract

Posted by Will Brinson

Cam Newton, the Panthers No. 1-overall draft pick, has signed his contract, and will make more than $22 million over four years, all of which is guaranteed.

Bus Cook, Newton's agent, told the The Associated Press via a text message Friday night that the deal was for four years and "$22 million-plus."

That's according to our Carolina Rapid Reporter Steve Reed, who cites a source close to the negotiations.

Newton, who played one year at Auburn before turning pro, will make substantially less than last year's top pick, Sam Bradford made. Like, a lot less: Bradford signed a deal for $78 million over six years.

But that money, freed up by new CBA rules governing rookie salaries, also allowed the Panthers to go out and sign some of their bigger names -- Charles Johnson, DeAngelo Williams -- in free agency.

Newton was seen Friday evening driving into the back lot of the Richardson Physical Activities Building and entering the offices that serve as team headquarters for Carolina's training camp at Wofford College.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera had said earlier Friday that he expected the former Auburn quarterback to be at Wofford when Carolina held its first practice session on Saturday. Also earlier Friday, general manager Marty Hurney said the sides were making good progress on an agreement.
Free Agency Frenzy

It's a testament to Jerry Richardson's involvement with the CBA that Carolina was able to pull off such moves; it's highly unlikely he would have drafted Newton if he'd thought that the quarterback would make the type of money that previous top-selected quarterbacks did.

Instead, the Panthers were able to not only pick up a potential franchise quarterback -- who, admittedly, has boom-or-bust potential -- but also reload their roster with the top talent that appeared to be headed elsewhere.

That might not ease the pain of losing $30 million in guaranteed money for Newton, but it'll at least ease his transition into the NFL.

"I don't think it's going to be a problem for me. I think it's just timing more than anything," Newton said last May. "Just repetition as far as me knowing what I have to do, knowing the assignment, the alignment and what everybody's doing on that particular play."

Newton has had Chudzinski's playbook since April 29, when a judge temporarily lifted the lockout. Panthers receiver Steve Smith said he was impressed with Newton's skills he saw during private workouts the two have had before labor peace was reached.

Another Panthers rookie from Auburn, receiver Darvin Adams, called Newton a "natural born leader."

Newton will be looked at to bring stability to a position where the Panthers struggled greatly last season. Carolina was last in several NFL categories and finished with the fewest points in team history.

Rivera said Newton would battle for the starting job with the quarterbacks in camp, last year's starter Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike. General manager Marty Hurney didn't rule out bringing a veteran quarterback to add depth during camp.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com