Dave Gettleman’s Doing What He Said He’d Do, So Why Are We Surprised?

I’m going into my 10th season covering the Panthers and I’ve never seen a week like this last one.

Nothing — from a loss in the 2005 NFC Championship Game, to a 2-14 season, to consecutive 2-8 starts — has caused as much hand-wringing in the Carolinas over the last decade like the first few days of the 2014 free agency period. I’m guessing the rise of social media has something to do with it, and releasing your most beloved player doesn’t exactly calm a fan base, yet a large amount of Panthers fans have become apoplectic about a season that doesn’t even start for nearly half the calendar year.

Some of the doom and gloom is warranted. As hard as the front office had to work to fill holes on a tight budget last offseason, their to-do list is longer this March. Left tackle Jordan Gross’ retirement leaves a huge void at the most important position on the offensive line, and Steve Smith, formerly the team’s best receiver on a roster currently without many, was not-so-graciously shown the door.

And who do the Panthers have ready to replace them? Uh. And how about the guys who’ve left for better-paying pastures, who’s replacing them? Uh oh.

It’s possible general manager Dave Gettleman misread the market. He would’ve brought back safety Mike Mitchell, defensive back Captain Munnerlyn and wide receivers Ted Ginn and Brandon LaFell — if the price was right. Instead, thanks in part to an increased salary cap that’s given other teams even more breathing room, the Panthers lost them all in the richer opening wave of free agency.

But while the exodus of helpful pieces and departure of the two longest-tenured Panthers have taken many fans by surprise, the rest of what’s been going on — or hasn’t been going on — is what we were told would happen well before this week. We just weren’t listening close enough.

This weekend I re-watched general manager Dave Gettleman’s two media appearances since the end of last season, the first occurring two days after the playoff loss to the 49ers, and the other at the Combine in Indianapolis last month. Listening again to what Gettleman said back then, combined with the events of the last week, make for some interesting hindsight.

“Everybody’s on the Outside Looking In”

Let’s start with The Steve Smith Situation. Most had no clue the Panthers were considering letting go of the best player in their history until Gettleman misworded an answer to a question about Smith at the Combine. But a month before, while answering a follow-up question about the possibility of seeing defensive end Greg Hardy land somewhere else via free agency, Gettleman offered this response about having to let a key player go.

Sounds like Gettleman may have been indirectly warning fans of what he was about to do with their most popular player?

“I Can’t Work in a Vacuum”

As many problems as the Panthers have, they also have pieces a possible championship team could build around. The thing is, those pieces cost money. Quarterback Cam Newton, linebacker Luke Kuechly and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei are all on their rookie contracts, so they’ll need to be paid in the future. Hardy may see his franchise tag turn into a long-term deal. Center Ryan Kalil is expensive, but he’s a rock-solid anchor for the offensive line. Of course, the more guys you lock up with big contracts, the harder it is to fill around them with complimentary pieces.

While it’s easy for fans to look with envy at the list of free agents that signed elsewhere last week, the truth is, the Panthers were never going to be in play for nearly all. The front office believes the best way to get out of their salary cap mess is to wait out the one they’re currently in. So passing on pricey left tackles and shiny receivers was in part to save space for the future tab.

“You Can’t Maintain the Status Quo”

The Panthers were good enough to win their division last year, but they weren’t good enough to win the NFC or the Super Bowl. Just looking at playoff teams, Seattle and San Francisco were both better, and with its shaky secondary, Carolina may have struggled against Green Bay, Philadelphia and New Orleans.

So how do the Panthers go from 12-4 to becoming the best team in the NFC? It’s not by keeping the same roster.

Ironically, many fans upset at the currently depleted roster also made LaFell a popular whipping boy and cringed when Munnerlyn lined up at cornerback.

Fans who wanted the Panthers to make Mitchell and Ginn a priority this offseason have forgotten those guys signed well into free agency’s second week last year.

But if you go back to the Combine, Gettleman reiterated his warning that many faces would be changing.

“What You’re Looking for is Sustained Success”

Despite what some fans think, the Panthers aren’t actually trying to regress in 2014. But yes, they’re not going “all in” like some teams.

Denver is, and why not? Quarterback Peyton Manning is 37. That gives him and the Broncos a window of one or two years, max. Newton is 24.

What we’ve seen the last week — taking Smith’s oftentimes overbearing presence out of the locker room, watching noncore guys head to other teams with fatter checkbooks, passing on coveted free agents — it’s all designed for both the present and future.

Yet since we (media and fans) have been so focused on 2014, we’ve missed the bigger picture.

Gettleman isn’t focused on just next season. He’s trying to do the job Jerry Richardson hired him to do — build a consistent winner. You don’t do that by giving LaFell, Ginn and Mitchell the deals they got elsewhere. You can’t do that by making your already cap-challenged team — which faces future big paydays for at least three of the core — even more financially strapped with new free agent deals. 

Gettleman’s slow play won’t appease fans who want to see a guaranteed winner built in March. Instead, the immediate future is filled with one or two-year contracts and the hopes of finding impact rookies like Lotuleli and fellow defensive tackle Kawann Short in May’s draft.

But a long-term vision doesn’t mean next year is necessarily a wash. The 2014 roster and a future with more cap space aren’t mutually exclusive. With Newton and arguably the best front seven in the NFC, the Panthers can win if Gettleman hits on his offseason moves like he did last year. That’s, of course, a big if. 

He again has to find bargain-bin free agents that can contribute. He again has to nail nearly all his draft choices. He has a razor thin margin for error. If he doesn’t fill holes with home runs in the draft and a bunch of extra base hits in free agency, the Panthers could be in big trouble next season and Gettleman will shoulder most of the blame.  

And when will we know if he made the right calls or not?

Not in March. Not in training camp. Not in Week 1.

Nope, as hard as it is in this #HOTTAKES needed immediately world, we can’t really judge Carolina’s offseason until a few games into next season. Remember, that’s how long we had to wait before finding out what guys like Mitchell, Ginn and Short could contribute.

So as we head into the second week of free agency, let’s make a deal. Can we at least try to not make definitive judgments about what’s going to happen 6-10 months from now?

Once into the 2014 season, if the Panthers’ passing game is inept while a reinvigorated Hakeem Nicks is piling up touchdowns with the Colts, have at it. If we can tell by October that Gettleman’s free agent magic ran out before a second act, feel free. If May’s draft picks aren’t NFL-ready, go for it. Ultimately, we may rule that Gettleman made critical mistakes this offseason.

In the meantime, a warning — this next week may not make you feel a whole lot better. When the Panthers start signing replacements for what they’ve lost, the names may not excite you. Yet you likely weren’t thrilled March 21, 2013, either. That’s when the Panthers brought in a Raiders safety who took a shot at Newton the previous season and a returner whose receiving career died in San Francisco.

Carolina’s offseason shopping isn’t exciting and fans can be excused for getting anxious. But it’s not yet time to panic. See what kind of deals Gettleman digs up the next few months. If he’s able to hit on some bargains, 2014 — and beyond — will look a whole lot better.

(VIDEO COURTESY: PANTHERS.COM)

Comments

  1. Katherine fields says:

    I am upset about letting smith go . However, I could have gotten over that. He is on the downside of his career( I will always be a smith fan though) . The problem I have is that we have not 1 receiver who has caught a pass in the NFL. Really? We have supposedly been rebuilding for some years now. Then when we finally get a good team, we release every receiver we have. I just don’ t understand. It’ s not like we have a high draft pick either. A team cannot survive without at least 1 experienced receiver. I am a Cam fan as well, but he cannot run all the plays and our running game is not at the top of the league either. So where does that put us? Another 2 or 3 years of a rebuilding season.. I have been a Hugh PAnthers fan since day 1, not a bandwagon fan and I have stood strong through the good and the very ugly, but it is getting harder and harder.. Let’ s see what the offseason brings, but I’ m still skeptical.. Will always love My Panthers.

    • billvoth says:

      Katherine, thanks for reading and for the reply. I can totally understand your skepticism. Every day that goes by and nothing happens – except for another guy leaving – means the pickens are even slimmer. You will end up having a receiver with at least one NFL catch. Will that guy be a true No. 1 WR? Unless they pull off a trade, it’s hard to see that happening. But there’s so much time for anything to happen, all you can really do is follow what’s become the worst cliché in the NFL, but one that’s very true in this situation – you’ve gotta trust the process. If the process equals a miserable season, THEN things will be bad.

  2. Matthew P. says:

    Given all the due attention paid to the Panthers cap situation lately, what I’ve personally really started to consider is those future contracts to Newton and Kuechly, and how much they’re going to command.

    While Kuechly hasn’t been around as long, I think you could state the case that he has established himself as a premium linebacker, and I feel like he will get a payday as nice as any LB in the league.

    The real question remains is: What do you pay Cam Newton? If Flacco and Peyton can earn around $20 million annually on their contract, how much do you feel Cam would be worth, comparably?

    Personally, I would balk at anything above 80% of those figures.

    • billvoth says:

      Matthew, the “good” news is while the front office has to worry about that stuff right now, fans don’t. You’ve got Cam through at least 2015 (team option) and Luke through 2016. With the way this offseason’s gone, I wouldn’t expect a Cam extension to get done (and if you’re him, would you be chomping at the bit to do something right now?), but something could happen once they get closer to camp and the roster’s filled out. If they don’t get something done, what he’ll eventually get paid will obvious hinge on how well he plays in 2014.

  3. If Gettleman doesn’t cut smith, then we’re not even having this conversation. In my eyes that was his one and only mistake. All he had to do was leave his contract alone, aquire Nicks (Cause in that case he would’ve come here), and drafted another reciever 1st or 2nd round. Add Olsen to that & you may have one of the best offensive situations in the league (atleast in the division). Now they’re running around like chickens w/ their heads cut off trying to find ONE reciever who would be desperate enough for a landing spot, to play for them. Nobody is that concerned w/ the loss of Mitchell, Cap, Lafell, and Ginn (although, I do think we should’ve found a way to keep HIM) . But the rest of those guys are pretty replaceable & it just wasnt gonna be financially possible to keep them anyway. But w/ this wr issue I now see this team going 5-11 next season (7-9 if they’re lucky) def not making the playoffs w/ a bunch of Non-veteran FA’s & rookies. Then I see Cam probably wanting out & them having to franchise him in order to force him to stay another yr. I’ll just be sitting back in my Steve Smith Sr Ravens jersey shaking my head and laughing at the downfall which has seemed to have already begun.

    • Taryn, it’s hard to say what really happened with Nicks because no one truly knows. Some have speculated it’s because the Colts have better WRs, but perhaps Gettleman “agreed” Indy was the better fit because they were willing to give him more $ and Dave wasn’t willing to go that high because of concerns he has about Hakeem. Not saying that’s what happened, just not sure yet.

      • I have been following Nicks since 2011. I’ve seen the interviews where he talked about growing up watching Steve Smith & wanting to emulated his game. I also read the interview he did in Feb where he talked about how he felt he’d be a great fit for his home team. That doesn’t just change because you think the other team has better recievers. He said he didn’t like the “Situation”. my common sense analysis is that he meant that he didn’t like the idea of not playing alongside his childhood hero but having to come in & replace him then deal w/ all the pressure. So why not go play behind 3 other wide outs and not have to stand out or be expected to do as much. And let’s be real it Gettleman was gonna recruit Nicks to basically take Smith’s place then we know he offered him a better deal than 3.5 mill for ONE yr. that’s chump change! I believe the 4.5 mill multi yr deal rumor that leaked was probably true. Bottom line is Nicks specifically said he wanted to go where he would be the missing link. By cutting Smith & bringing him in he would’ve had to be the savior. So Gettleman had no choice but to agree w/ Nicks because there was no way he was coming here.

  4. The thing that bothers me is that if we weren’t building around Cam the first 3 years, what were we doing?? We all know how Cam is, he absolutely hates losing. Now we’re telling him and everybody else in the locker room another 3-4 yes. I have a real bad feeling that if this season doesn’t go well and Cam is up for his contract yr, dude may just walk. He hates losing, he’s definitely one who considers his legacy and he’s only had ONE winning season. Don’t be surprise is he pulls a Lebron James in search of greener pastures. Now all this moving and shuffling is for not and we’re back at square one.

    • TJ, you’re right about how they’re behind in building around Cam. He needs MUCH better protection and weapons and right now they have limited funds and late draft pick. As far as Cam walking, etc … let it play out. You have him until at least 2015. Lots of things can happen the next couple years.

      • Its one thing to tell the fans to be patient, but a player has options. I’m afraid that Gman is putting all his eggs in the draft, hope we hit each pick out the park (unlikely), developing the talent while also keeping the core players we already have on the team. I feel like as a small market team we’re already at a disadvantage as is. Success is our only card to draw in FAs and keep guys on our roster. His plan sounds nice but with all the variables, its seems like a long shot.

        • TJ, for NFL players who have such a limited time to make guaranteed money, they almost ALWAYS go where the most money is. Unfortunately, the Panthers are in a bad money situation this year and will be next offseason as well. But you have a right to be concerned about where all of Gettleman’s eggs are. Depending on free agent bargains and the draft is a risky way to live in the NFL. He did it right once. Twice isn’t guaranteed.

  5. In 2013 our #1 and #2 receivers combined for 1,372 yards. Steve Smith had 745 yards and LaFell had 627 with a 1st round/franchise QB throwing to them. Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns had 1,646 yards by himself. Without checking, who was the QB for the Browns last year? Uh huh. There were 7 receivers in the NFL last year who produced more yards than Smith and LaFell together! I am astonished at the grief Gettleman is getting over letting them both walk out the door. Steve was a great player in his prime. He never understood the value of investing in young players though. If He had, he would probably still be on the team. He was only worried about getting the ball, not about helping the team. Now Gettleman is building a team and everyone cries about Steve Smith. Unbelievable.

    • David, can’t say Steve never cared about the young players, but you’re right, he wasn’t always the mentor many believe him to have been.

    • You are seriously comparing the stats of a wideout who is in his prime & arguably one of the best in the league to a 34 yr olds who is on his way out?! I just checked the dept chart for the browns last season & their entire receiving core seemed to include only Josh Gordon & a TE by the name of Jason Cameron. Everyone else was virtually ineffective so what in the world do you expect? Comsidering Cam spreading the ball around the way that he did, lacking accuracy more often then not, on top of our super conservative play calling, the stats for our wideouts are actually pretty decent. W/ those flashy numbers from Gordon the Browns still managed to only go 4-12, while many of those 745 yards from SS were important to be gained when they were or else they would not have been 12-4 and w/ a first round bye in the playoffs.

      • That’s my point – Smith is no longer a #1 receiver. Why pay him like one? He said himself (after being traded) “I’m no longer a #1″. If Josh Gordon is an anomaly, what about the other 6 receivers in the NFL I referenced? My point is Smith needed to go. I think this upcoming season will prove that. He was not productive as a 1 and wasn’t open to pay commensurate with a slot receiver. Enjoy Baltimore.

        • Excuse me David. I’m sorry for ever believing that the Panthers should ever have anything other #1 recievers on their team. It should have all made sense to me out when Gettleman not only cut Smith but let all the others walk as well. No other team in the league keeps #2 & 3 recievers so why would we wanna be any different? & Smith is certainly more of a #5 or 6 reciever so why hold on to him when you can have a guy like James Crotchery who is sure to be one of the best #1 recievers you could ever ask for right?
          I’d also like to apologize for being befuddled by us thinking Smith is so washed up & still other top contending teams like the Pats, Ravens, Chargers, etc were immediately falling over themselves & willing to give up their limited cap space to get him the min we let him go.
          Lastly I’d like to say i respect your confidence in this team and feeling like they’ll probably go 14-2 & make the playoffs w/out smith since they are so much better without him. I’ll surely eat my words when that happens.
          Ps. If you wanted me to touch on the other guys then you probably should have mentioned their names. & if they didn’t wanna pay him 7 mill then they could have just asked him to restructure which his agent said they never did. & he also said Smith had been willing to play slot for years. But maybe your sources are better then mine. Who knows.

          • David S. says:

            Taryn, I’m simply suggesting that many fans have prematurely vilified Gettleman for “letting players leave”. He isn’t letting them leave. With the exception of Smith, everyone else who left did so for more money. That’s part of having a winning program. If Smith, like many have suggested, was a distraction I’m glad he is gone. One man does not make a team.

        • I actually started to add in the last post that they probably left voluntarily. Just decided to leave it out. But that was beside the point anyway. If you think Smith is a “distraction” i sure hope you guys don’t end up w/ Britt. Although that may be the only option they have left soon. I’m not sure how much of a distraction could possibly exist in the locker room when a team is consistently winning games. But if its more worth it for them to have him out of it & they lose then…I guess. Cuz I’m sure Cam would much rather lose games then to deal w/ Steve Smith in the locker room. We all know that

  6. Sam Slater says:

    Bill, if there ever was a time for a great article that you have taken the time to write up about the direction that the Panther’s organization is wanting to go in it was now with this excellent piece. I agree with your assessment that I for one have not seen such a “Rome is burning” theme since during the 2010 season. I believe that fans in general are projecting their anger and shock over the Steve Smith release onto every other former Panther signing elsewhere. In turn it has just magnified the current state of affairs at the moment here in Carolina.

    • Sam, thanks for taking the time to check it out. You’re right about the Steve Smith thing accentuating the negative of everything else that is and isn’t going on. While I’m preaching patience, that sure doesn’t mean this is all going to work out in the end. But instead of just canceling the season, they should probably still play it, you know?

  7. This article is so well done, and this is so necessary for the attention of Panther fans! I don’t mind seeing other teams stock up and make their team better, because it’s their money and their choices. People want to give a #2 wide receiver some big money to play behind what will most likely be incoming big-potential WRs. Other than O-Line and Cornerback (which I am more comfortable with than most), we will *need* a Wide Receiver. Perhaps several. I think that position should be the least of our worries during the free agency, and instead find a way to land a decent offensive lineman.

    I don’t get to go to the games much, but I’ll watch them all. Gettleman will do what Gettleman do, and he’ll live with the consequences. But the narrative isn’t over, so overreactions and conclusive opinions should be withheld : )

  8. If I may, Mr. Voth, a follow-up:

    What team in the NFL should we keep an eye on in 2014, other than the Panthers? :P

  9. Thanks, Bill. I needed to read this and be reminded that the sky is NOT falling. It really should be read by 99% of Panthers fans out there. Good stuff!

  10. Great read! I think Gettleman wanted to see Cam as the unquestioned leader before handing him a 100 million dollar contract. Oh and Go Hornets !

  11. Here is why Panthers fans are and unquestionably should be furious with Dave Gettleman:

    #1) Cutting Steve Smith DID NOT SAVE THE PANTHERS MONEY AGAINST THE SALARY CAP. Releasing Steve cost $9 million, whereas keeping him would have cost only $7 million. Technically it did create two million in cap room by designated it a June 1st cut and pushing four of the nine million against the 2015 cap, but the exact same hit against the 2015 cap would have been incurred had Gettleman let him play this season and then released him. So it’s an undeniable fact that cutting Steve Smith did not benefit the team in either the short or long-term. The one and only reason it was done was to show the players who is boss. It was a power play where Gettleman could mark his territory by peeing on the roster.

    #2) We’ve all seen Byron Bell play right tackle. Dave Gettleman steadfastly refused to bring in competition for him last season even with enough cap space to do so. 2014 is that much more scary because it seems clear that Gettleman now intends for Byron Bell, maybe the worst starting right tackle in the NFL, to become Gross’ replacement at left tackle. Why would we expect that to be anything other than a disaster?

    #3) Hakeem Nicks is an admittedly flawed receiver, but he has been a productive one. Nick is also from this area and would have preferred to come back here for the cheap, one year deal to rehabilitate his value. All he wanted was a respectable offer more than the veteran minimum. Dave Gettleman told him he was better off in Indianapolis.

    #4) Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr. didn’t sign huge deals in free agency. It would have been crazy to match the terms for Mike Mitchell, but Ginn and LaFell signed very reasonable deals. The New England Patriots are a model organization, right? So why would we pretend that Gettleman out-smarted them by letting the Patriots pay a price for LaFell that he wouldn’t?

    Believe me, I understand why Panthers fans and Panthers writers want to talk themselves into the delusion that this is all defensible. Many of you were doing exactly the same thing during Marty Hurney’s insanity, while I was shouting from the rooftops that he was ruining the team. But being a fan and having affection for a team doesn’t mean blindly supporting the team’s decisions, nor does it mean making excuses for them. Anyone who feels something for the Carolina Panthers SHOULD BE upset about the last month.

    If Dave Gettleman was doing a Reggie McKenzie-type teardown that cleared Oakland of all its bad contracts then I would be ok with that because it would be a reasonable approach to benefit the future of the franchise. That isn’t what he is doing, however. The moves Gettleman made are hurting the Panthers in the short-term while having no obvious long-term benefit to make up for it. He appears to be an egomaniac who wants to show everyone how brilliant he is by making moves that enrage the players on the team and the fan base that supports them. This is actually the point where Jerry Richardson needs to step in and get rid of the clown because they’re nearing a point of no return. Ask the Hornets how easy it is to regain the trust of sports fans in the Carolinas.

    • J.D., awesome response. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. If I may:
      1) It’s not yet an undeniable fact that releasing Steve hasn’t helped the team.
      2) It’s March, Byron Bell is not yet the left tackle.
      3) We don’t know the full story behind what happened with Hakeem yet.
      4) FWIW, re-signing LaFell would’ve taken up more than 1/3 of what little cap space is remaining.

      • #1) Yes, it is an undeniable fact that releasing Steve made the team worse. Smith isn’t as good as he used to be, but he was still the team’s most effective wideout and it cost more cap space to release him than to keep him. 54.% of Steve Smith’s targets on 3rd down went for 1st downs last season. The rest of the team only got 1st downs on 35.4% of their 3rd down targets, and no other player had a mark higher than 44.4%.

        #2) The top free agent tackles are already gone, while Gettleman and Rivera have indicated that the next LT “may already be on the roster.” It seems like the only way it doesn’t happen is if they draft one, and even then I wouldn’t be surprised if Bell starts at LT while a rookie starts at RT. Given that Gettleman chose not to create any competition for Bell last season and then signed him to a second round tender for 2014, clearly they have confidence in him for some reason no one else can understand.

        #3) Yes, we do. Nicks said that’s what happened when speaking to the media.

        #4) That is not accurate. According to the details of his contract with the Patriots, LaFell only counts $2 million against their 2014 salary cap. Furthermore, what exactly is Gettleman going to spend the money on? The top tackles and wide receivers are all already gone.

        • billvoth says:

          All right, I’ll keep playing the game if you like.
          1) You said it was an undeniable fact cutting Steve made the team worse in the short and long term. If you can see that far into the future, well, Powerball is $80 million right now.
          2) So they COULD actually draft an LT that COULD possibly start?
          3) Yeah, Hakeem said Gettleman agreed Indy was best fit for him. Was that because Indy was willing to give him more money? Was it because Indy has better WRs? Was it because the Panthers have other concerns about him? Eh, why care about any of that? One sentence a player said on a conference call with the media must mean what you make it to mean.
          4) As of this afternoon, the NFLPA lists the Panthers cap space at $7.34 million. Spotrac has it as $4 million. So I split the difference when estimating how much LaFell would’ve taken up. And what else would he spend it on? Draft picks and guys like this year’s Mitchell and Ginn aren’t going to play for free.

          I guess my question to you is: If you were telling everyone about what Hurney was doing wrong and you know for sure everything that Gettleman is doing wrong, why on earth are you not an NFL GM?

  12. Losing Smitty is emotional, yes, but as so many have said he’s on the downside of his career. Still, with his relatively low salary (I think we only saved like $2 million letting him go vs. keeping him), he could be a great “possession” WR since he’s no longer the deep threat he once was.

    What bothers me most is losing Mike Mitchell. I had referred to him last summer as the “likely pleasant surprise” for Carolina, and I turned out to be spot-on there. With Hardy’s franchise tender taking most of any wiggle-room we had left, signing Mitchell as well would have probably hamstrung us completely for OTHER FAs we need.

    Right now, however, at the heart of things is we are in that very awkward, scary place of having let all our WRs go and fans are simply tense over waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    “Okay, we see you’ve cleaned house at WR, BUT…..?????”

    I think the Smitty move was done not because of things on the field, but his locker room presence. Gettleman wants Cam to lead the offense, not Smitty, and for Luke K. to be able to step up even more than he already has as defensive leader. It’s a case of “out with the old, in with the new.”

    That still doesn’t quite help much when we’ve got 2 WRs on the roster with ANY NFL career receptions and the total is less than ten between the two, if memory serves.

    I was skeptical of Nicks signing from the get-go as Gettleman COULD have had him for a song last year – but he didn’t give up a 6th or 7th rounder for the stretch-run “rental” of Hakeem Nicks, since he was going to be a FA anyway and we’d still be in this situation. It also speaks volumes that Gettleman was part of the NYG organization that drafted Nicks to begin with, and now it’s twice that he hasn’t shown interest in acquiring him. We all know he’s an injury risk, and Gettleman knows him better than anyone so he may indeed be more than “damaged goods.”

    Was James Jones’ asking price too high? He went public saying he’d love to play with Cam before signing with the Raiders. While Jones isn’t a #1 WR, he wasn’t commanding #1 money either….but still may have been too rich for us to sign.

    We fans just know there are no franchise left tackles out there, and if there were, we wouldn’t be able to afford them anyway. I think it’s the WR situ that has us all on-edge. And at 28th overall, the 3 top-teir LTs will be gone – Robinson, Matthews, and Lewan. It would seem that if Morgan Moses is around at 28, we’ll almost HAVE to take him and wait still longer albeit in a deep, deep class of WRs in this draft. Perhaps Zack Martin can indeed play LT in the NFL, but some are projecting him as a guard. Only Rivera and Gettleman really know where he may fit in our scheme.

    I think at this point the bar is pretty low for fans – we’re looking for some warm bodies if nothing else to give us some depth at WR while knowing (at least I’m thinking) that a LT is the likely target in the first round with some WRs to follow.

    Lastly, I liked your comment about “shiny” players….I’ve been blogging for the Panthers for a few years now and have noticed fans love the sizzle but are lukewarm on the steak. Well, it’s the steak part that’s most important.

    The Seahawks HAD no “shiny WRs” last year, save for Percy Harvin who played what….6 quarters or so and wasn’t a factor in the Super Bowl? They proved, once again with feeling, that it’s still defense that wins championships after dominating the highest-scoring offense in NFL history last month. Gettleman is making certain to keep the best parts of OUR defense (save Mike Mitchell for apparent salary reasons), while necessity demanding a draft heavy on offense.

    That said, it’s a rare thing for rookie WRs to take off, but last year’s top rookie WR, San Diego’s Keenan Allen, was a third-round pick and the Panthers likely will double-dip that position, starting in the second or third round (maybe both), getting the best LT available with the top pick they have (barring having to reach TOO far), and letting the depth at WR take care of itself later in the draft.

    It’s just this “waiting and not knowing” part that bothers people. Even with all of what I just said, I still feel a bit edgy about the situation myself but have faith that Gettleman will have some weapons in place come June’s OTAs and then training camp.

    Until then, inquiring minds really really wanna know!

    • billvoth says:

      Great stuff, Ken. No easy answers at this point and every day that goes by without much of anything happening angers the masses that much more.

  13. Great insight. Thanks for the calming words and introspect. I am feeling very down about 2014 and not excited to buy my season tickets. However, no one thought last year even 4 games into the season, that we would have been division champs. Plus, when you think about it, Seattle doesn’t have any of the NFL “stars” playing for them. Look at how Detroit did and they have Megatron and Reggie Bush…both “glitzy” players!

  14. I’m holding off until the draft, still have faith in the front office.

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