NFL star Julius Peppers' road back home
I guess it could have been crazier – the Carolina Panthers could also have brought Jake Delhomme back from Louisiana and installed him as a backup quarterback.
Short of that, though, I’m not sure the Panthers could have created many more waves than they did in a wild two-day period on Thursday and Friday. It was the most lightning-fast series of personnel moves in the Panthers’ free-agent history, and overall it was an optimistic sign for a team that knew the status quo had to be bulldozed to achieve anything meaningful in 2017.
So many things happened in such a short period that it was ludicrous. Defensive end Kony Ealy was basically given away to New England – the Panthers managed to move up eight picks on one draft pick in 2017, but that was all. Normally, a story like that would have kept Panther Nation going for days – speculating about whether Bill Belichick could revive Ealy’s career, if Carolina had given up on him too early and so on.
Instead, the departure of the Panthers’ very best player in Super Bowl 50 was buried under the onslaught of defensive end Julius Peppers and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn returning home. And Matt Kalil’s enormous $55.5-million contract to play left tackle. And new wide receivers Charles Johnson – who needs to find himself a good alternate nickname quick – and Russell Shepard.
And safety Mike Adams, who doesn’t want you to ask him about his age. And offensive tackle Mike Remmers leaving, along with linebacker A.J. Klein and Ted Ginn Jr. (the Panthers will miss Ginn the most).
It just went on and on. It was the 48-hour, all-you-can-eat-at-midnight, cruise-ship buffet of free-agent moves.
So after all that, now that the buffet has closed down for a little while, what did we learn?
We learned that the Panthers are embarrassed by that 6-10 record of 2016.
We learned that they are so intent on protecting Cam Newton’s head – and the rest of his body – that they were willing to seriously overpay for Kalil because that’s what it took to get him.
We learned that they don’t quite trust Tre Boston to be a starter at safety.
We learned that they are going to take a running back early in the draft, if there was ever any doubt of that.
We learned that the Panthers know they need more speed on offense.
And we learned that the Panthers are intent on another Super Bowl, right now, and are willing to take all sorts of risks to try and obtain it.