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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Draft a little PO'ed

    From the Gaston Gazette:

    CHARLOTTE — After leading the Carolina Panthers in tackles last season, middle linebacker Chris Draft is a little irked that, when push came to shove, the team simply didn’t want him back.

    “I had a better year last season than Dan Morgan has ever had — and I get paid ridiculously less,” Draft said Tuesday. “I don’t get it.”

    Draft, the team’s top unrestricted free agent, agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the St. Louis Rams Monday night. He said the Rams gave him $1.3 million to sign and he’ll earn the league veteran minimum of $720,000 in the first year of the deal, which means his salary cap hit for 2007 will be $1.15 million.

    Draft, who wanted to stay in Charlotte, said he took the Rams’ offer back to the Panthers to allow them a chance to match it.

    “They said, ‘There’s no way that we can match it,’” Draft said. “That’s where they are at. I’m not sure where their direction is but they made it clear I wasn’t in their plans.”

    In 2006, Draft had the best season, at least statistically, of any Carolina middle linebacker since Sam Mills, recording 111 tackles, 5.5 sacks with two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Morgan’s best season came in 2004 when he was selected to the Pro Bowl despite playing in only 12 games. Morgan had 109 tackles that season along with two sacks, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.

    However, the Panthers have long been enamored with Morgan’s talent — and for good reason. Any NFL scout will tell you he’s bigger, faster, stronger and, quite frankly, better than Draft when he’s healthy.

    The problem is Morgan is rarely healthy.

    In fact, Morgan never played more than 13 games in a season due to a variety of injuries, including five concussions since 2001. He missed 15 games last season with a concussion. The loss of Draft leaves the Panthers with another hole to fill.

    They recently signed linebacker Terrence Melton from the New Orleans Saints, but he doesn’t have much starting experience should Morgan go down again.

    Draft, who can play all three linebacker positions, came to Carolina as a backup in 2005, but wound up starting 19 games, including 16 last year.

    “It’s hard because it’s not something where I wanted to move,” Draft said. “I know there is a benefit to having things in place and knowing your teammates and knowing the scheme. But at the same time, to be appreciated sometimes you have to move on.”

    Draft said he’s been told he’ll compete with weakside linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, who is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, for a starting spot. He’ll also be expected to back up the team’s other two linebackers — Brandon Chillar and ex-Panther Will Witherspoon.

    Reeder's take on Draft

    It’s a little surprising the Panthers wouldn’t match the Rams offer given Morgan’s injury history. The reality is his salary cap hit for this year ($1.15 million) would not have been that much to swallow, especially for a quality veteran and the piece of mind knowing they would have a quality backup in the event Morgan sustains another head injury.

    The Panthers now desperately need someone who can fill that role because history has proven time and time again you can’t count on Morgan to play 16 games without getting hurt. The Panthers are not only losing a valuable veteran backup who can step in and start in a pinch at linebacker, but yet another contributor on special teams.

  2. #2
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Draft a little Ticked Off :-)

    Maybe Draft will be more and more involved as the season progressess and strengthen the LB corps -- sigh, another hope for my 2007 Rams. Can do, will do!

    GO ... R A M S !... :bash:

  3. #3
    Goldenfleece's Avatar
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    Re: Draft a little PO'ed

    That's really surprising that the Panthers said they couldn't possibly match a deal offering him league minimum. Especially with the funny money deals that have been going down the last few years.

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