Color me surprised. Yesterday in this very space I wrote about the Panthers quarterback situation and how it looked like Matt Moore and Jake Delhomme were going to battle for the job this summer. Cat scratch that idea. Delhomme is history. In a surprise move Thursday night, the Panthers cut their longtime quarterback.
Most Panther fans will either applaud this move or they won’t care. It’s no secret Delhomme’s inconsistent play has had him in the crosshairs of many a Panther fan over the years. Me? Well, I am going to miss number 17. I’ve always been a fan of Jake. He’s one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet. I always pulled for him because I like to pull for good guys.
It is important to remember this is the guy that was under center when the Panthers went to the first and only Super Bowl. He has played in the NFC Championship game twice and has led the team to the playoffs three times. He’s also the guy that had six turnovers in the team’s playoff loss to Arizona two years ago. He threw a career high 18 interceptions last year and he didn’t even play in the final five games because of injury. Clearly something needed to happen and I don’t blame the team for looking at Matt Moore and giving him the opportunity to start this season. But wouldn’t Delhomme make a great backup plan? Now what happens if Moore struggles or gets injured?
The team signed Delhomme to a very questionable contract extension last offseason. They are still on the hook for 13 million dollars. This move, like almost all in the NFL, was done for financial reasons. I’m not convinced it was the right move. Apparently I’m not alone either. If you didn’t like the guy why did you sign him to the big contract last year? And is Matt Moore really your answer?
As I said yesterday, this is a huge offseason for the Panthers. They have a huge gap at quarterback right now. They don’t have a first round draft pick so it is hard to imagine them getting a quarterback via the draft that can help out any time soon. As far as free agents go, well, right now, courtesy of the Panthers, Delhomme is the best quarterback on the free agent market. I’ve already heard Miami, Washington and Arizona as potential teams that could sign Jake.
We’ll see how it shakes out. Marty Hurney and John Fox are smart and very loyal guys. This move literally brought them to tears. Now they have some more crucial decisions to makeover the next several months. There is no indication as to what the team has in store next. One thing is certain, it is going to be strange watching the Panthers play minus Peppers and Delhomme next season. This clearly marks the end of an era in the organization.