The first wave of the Panthers' salary-cap related cuts has washed up ashore. The wave surprisingly did not carry Ken Lucas with it -- at least not yet -- but it did include RB Nick Goings, WR D.J. Hackett and OT Jeremy Bridges.
They all got fired Wednesday, and there will be more. The huge ramifications of committing nearly 16.7 million to Julius Peppers next season -- and the Panthers have to commit it at the moment, even though a trade may happen -- are only beginning to be felt.
Of the 3, I'll only miss Goings. He was a quiet, fine warrior for the Panthers. He made the team in 2001 as a free agent and stuck around for eight years -- an eternity for an NFL RB -- because he made himself so valuable. The season everyone remembers is 2004, when Goings finally got the call as the starting RB after 5 other players had gotten injured or performed poorly. He responded with 4 straight 100-yard games, including a 3-TD game against Arizona that included a 57-yard TD run.
Goings never had another year anywhere near that one, but he was tough and versatile and he'll be missed.
Some Panthers will also miss Jeremy Bridges, who had a good run as a starter here for awhile. I won't. What I'll mainly remember about Bridges is his off-field problems, including the one during the 2008 season when he sprayed Dom Perignon over some patrons at a fancy restaurant. I mean, c'mon -- in this economy?? That's a double slap in the face.
As for Hackett, what a washout that guy was! Hackett was supposed to compete with Muhsin Muhammad for the No.2 receiving role. Instead, Moose left him in the dust. Hackett didn't score a touchdown ALL YEAR, an embarrassment for someone who is supposed to use speed as their primary weapon. He only had 13 catches for 181 yards and was frequently inactive. Good riddance to him.
NFL schedule will be released Wednesday at 8 p.m.
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