Caroline Panthers may be one of the youngest franchises in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t had its share in the failures of free agencies. Here are the five worst off-season team signatures since 1995.
5. Keyshawn Johnson, 2006
Giving a big receiver a four-year contract for $14 million with a $5 million guarantee – not bad, even though Johnson was 34 years old at the time. Johnson never reached his first overall status, but he was a solid NFL player for a decade. Two years before joining the Panthers, he played all 32 games for the Dallas Cowboys, taking 141 passes for 1,820 yards and 12 touchdowns. With Carolina he made 70 steps at 815 meters and four points. He was fired at the end of the season and retired shortly after. Johnson had about the same salary as current players like Robert Woods and Corey Davis, and although the team probably had no intention of giving up on him so soon, it could of course have been much worse.
4. Boring potash
In 2012 Kalil was chosen as the fourth Viking from Minnesota and has never been in the top five. He was solid, but after skipping most of the 2016 season, Minnesota refused to re-elect him. Carolina awarded Calil a five-year contract worth $55 million, of which $31 million was guaranteed, and gave him a mid-season break before interrupting him after the 2018 election campaign, which he missed due to a knee injury. The talent of an aggressive line is always in demand in the NFL, so you can hardly blame the Panthers for turning to a former fullback, even if it didn’t go so well.
3. Jake Delomme
Ironically, Delhomme is also one of the best, if not the best, free agent in the team’s history. He didn’t play sports in 1997, but after expanding training camps in New Orleans and travelling back and forth to Europe with the NFL, Delhomme started playing for the Panthers in 2003, almost leading the Carolinas to victory of the Super Bowl. He would have taken care of the injuries for another three years. In 2004, Delhomme was awarded a six-year contract worth $38 million, which proved highly profitable. Prior to the 2009 campaign, he signed another six-year contract worth almost $49 million with a $20 million guarantee. Unfortunately, this happened after he scored 15 touchdowns for 12 interceptions in the regular season and came out of the playoffs, made five shots and lost the ball to the Arizona Cardinals.
In 2009, Delhomme started from the 4-7 position, scoring only eight touchdowns against 18 interceptions and was released by the Panthers. He spent time in Cleveland and Houston before retiring in 2012.
2. Chuck Forge
1992. The Atlanta Falcons have collected 58.5 bags in eight seasons. Prior to the 2000 campaign, Smith signed a $21 million five-year contract with the Carolina, similar to Kyle Van Noah’s new contract with the Miami Dolphins. Unfortunately Smith only played two games for the Panthers because of a knee injury. By the time the deal was signed, Smith had left the season with 10 bags. He’s only missed five games in his career, none since 1996. It is a pity that Smith’s signature is now seen as a disaster, because it has nothing to do with how Smith appeared. If he could stay healthy, he wouldn’t be a great passport driver; he turned 31 in his first season with the Panthers. In the worst case, however, he would be a strong player. It is always difficult to see how players deal with injuries.
1. Sean Gilbert
Gilbert’s situation involves several levels of extreme intrigue. He was a very good player for the Rams and Washington Redskins for five seasons before missing the 1997 campaign instead of signing a franchise that would earn him $3.4 million. Washington did the same in 1998, but this time Gilbert offered a one-year contract worth $2.97 million. The Panthers gave Gilbert a list of bids totaling $46.5 million. Washington refused to play and received two victories in the first round as compensation. It’s an incredibly high price. Not only did Carolina finish with two picnics in the first round, which is almost scandalous today, but in addition to the right to call the quarterback, she gave Gilbert 12.68% of the 1998 salary ceiling. If the team had done it today, it would have paid $23.86 million for DT. Aaron Donald, who is on his way to becoming the greatest darts player in the history of the NFL, earns an average of $22.5 million. Gilbert played five seasons in Carolina, but it certainly wasn’t worth it.
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