The Last Word 3-12-13 - The Charlotte Observer’s Jonathan Jones joins Lewis to talk Panthers as the organization enters free agency. They discuss the impact of the Gettleman and Shula hires as well as the team’s cap space, draft needs and future under head coach Ron Rivera. Find out how the Panthers’ roster will likely change before next season.
“You’re probably not going to see the big kind of contracts, the overpaying. Hurney, when he overpaid, he really overpaid. And so I don’t think you’re going to see that with Gettleman. He does seem to be a little more conservative.”
Jones continues, “[Gettleman] builds in the draft. He doesn’t usually go after really big free agents. He’s a really good talent evaluator and he understands a good deal when it’s time to make a good deal.”
Lewis and Jonathan discuss the biggest surprise of the off season.
Jones was most shocked by the Panthers’ cutting James Anderson. He notes Anderson’s level of play had dropped, but also that his cap figure wasn’t very high, “he could potentially just save the Panthers $200,000 in cap room this season.”
Lewis asks about the effect of keeping both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.
Jones notes that Gettleman favors a more traditional running attack. He also expects the Panthers to move away from the “cute” read option and play more “old school” football. With the renewed focus on “old school” football, keeping both running backs makes more sense.
They then discuss the salary cap.
Jones says, “The Panthers are around $4 million under the cap. They’d like to get about $10 million under the cap. In doing that they’d be able to sign about 2 or 3 free agents and then also sign their draft picks.” But don’t expect a big name free agent like Mike Wallace. There isn’t enough cap space for that.
Lewis asks Jonathan about drafting for need versus drafting for best player available.
Jones replies, “I do think it’s drafting for best player because you don’t know what you’re going to need a year down the road.” He also notes that Gettleman’s comments to the Charlotte Observer reflect a best player available philosophy.
They move on to the Panthers’ habit of slow starts and speculating where the Panthers will finish in 2013.
Jones says, “I would say they’re a 9-7 team for next season.” He continues, “If Cam and the offense can’t get rolling. If they can’t figure out what their identity is, they’ll struggle.”
They both agree that Panthers will likely have to win nine or more games for Ron Rivera to return for a fourth season.
~Lewis Woodard, WFNZ Sports Radio The Fan 610 AM
Find Lewis on Twitter @LewWoodard