Fri Mar 05 12:29am EST
The Carolina Panthers officially cut ties with longtime quarterback Jake Delhomme on Friday in an emotional goodbye to a franchise mainstay.
[Panthers coach John] Fox twice welled up with tears in explaining the decision, which came despite the fact Carolina still owes Delhomme more than $12.5 million in guaranteed money. After a 58-40 record as a starter over seven seasons, the 35-year-old Delhomme is out of work after his stunning one-year decline.
"He's done some great things for this team. Two (NFC) championship games, a Super Bowl, all those comeback victories," Fox said. “I’m not sure I've had any more respect for an NFL football player than Jake Delhomme(notes)."
Fox Sports's Jay Glazer first reported the the team's plan to cut Delhomme on Thursday. In some ways, the move is a surprise, and in some ways, it isn't. It hadn't been preceded by any rumors of the Panthers cutting Delhomme, but at the same time, he'd been throwing interceptions like it was his job, he was playing under a ridiculous contract, and the uncapped year gives the Panthers a chance get rid of him, consequence-free. They had to do it.
That leaves Matt Moore(notes) as the man in Carolina, which, depending on your point of view, is some mix of exciting and terrifying. Moore played well in seven appearances last year, completing over 60% of his passes and tossing 8 touchdowns against 2 interceptions. While those numbers do indeed provide a reason to be excited, Moore is still very young and very unproven.
I'm not anti-Moore by any means, but if it were me, I'd feel a little uncomfortable heading into a season with Moore as my starter, without a decent veteran backup behind him. I don't know if A.J. Feeley(notes) is that guy, and unless you love Daunte Culpepper(notes), I don't know if that guy's available in free agency, either.
Speaking of veteran backups, that's probably the role Delhomme will be filling for some other team. I can't imagine anyone giving him a clear path to a starting job, but it's easy to imagine a lot of teams wanting him as a backup.
Over the last year or so, Delhomme's been popping out interceptions like a Pez dispenser. Maybe it means he's washed up, but I don't know. I've kind of felt like it was a crisis of confidence. If Delhomme can find at atmosphere where he can get his confidence back, I think he'd be well worth a shot as a backup.
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