Thursday, March 1, 2012

Should Carolina Panthers go after Hines Ward?

So the Pittsburgh Steelers announced plans to release wide receiver Hines Ward yesterday, and just like clockwork, I've been getting emails and tweets from Panther fans wondering if Ward would be a good pickup for Carolina this offseason.

In a word, no.

And that's not to diminish what Ward has done. He's been one of the best blocking wide receivers in the league, he caught 1,000 passes in Pittsburgh, he was a four-time Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl MVP and even the "Dancing with the Stars" champion.

But Ward is also turning 36 next week. His body has taken 14 years of NFL punishment. He only caught 46 passes for 381 yards and two TDs in Pittsburgh last season. His high point -- a 67-yard game -- came in Week 1, and it went slowly downhill from there. Simply, he's lost his burst.

That's not to say Ward wouldn't work somewhere as an elder statesman//third receiver type. Maybe he even ends up back in Pittsburgh at a lesser salary.

But the Panthers already have filled the role of "aging wide receiver who can still play" -- it's played by Steve Smith every week. Smith is younger and far more explosive than Ward. The Panthers don't need Ward, Terrell Owens or Randy Moss -- they need to develop some youth at the position that will be in Charlotte a long time and go along with quarterback Cam Newton. (Smith's contract expires after the 2012 season, and what happens next is anyone's guess, although he would like to stay in Charlotte and the Panthers should make every effort to keep the best player they have ever had).

David Gettis and Brandon LaFell will likely be the second and third receivers this season, but Carolina still needs another guy. Legedu Naanee started a lot over LaFell last season because he was such a good blocker and dirty-work guy. Maybe he comes back. Maybe it's someone else. Maybe Carolina lucks into Justin Blackmon at No.9 in April's NFL draft,a lthough I don't think he will last that long.

But Ward? I wish him well and I admire his good work over the years, but I think it would be a mistake for the Panthers to make that investment.

-- One additional college basketball note: As you likely know, Duke and UNC play each other Saturday night at Duke for the ACC regular-season championship and the No.1 seed in next week's ACC tournament.

The Observer will post a video with some really cool highlights on Friday morning at CharlotteObserver.com where I will be picking my Top 5 All-time Comebacks in this 233-game series (Austin Rivers' three-pointer is in there, but I won't say where). So watch for that -- the column to go along with the video will also be on the site and in the newspaper in the next 48 hours.

37 comments:

9dawgQ said...

I would prefer that Carolina pursue Randy Moss. We need a deep threat other than Steve Smith.

Anonymous said...

Mr Ward is a Damn Good Dawg, but I am afraid he is wore out. Gotta pass.

Anonymous said...

Walter Davis #1.

Anonymous said...

NO,no,no...Idea is to get younger at the position not older. Look at what the steelers did with their WR core(and they are letting him go) then look at what the Jets did.

Josh Hodges said...

Heck no, Moss would be tight though.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I love Hines Ward, but his best games are behind him. Instead of singing another aging WR, the Panthers should sign or draft quality talent, similar to the talented, young WR group that the NY Giants have.

Anonymous said...

... and when exactly did you become an 'expert' on picking sports Scott?

Bono said...

Play Hines in the same way the Panthers used to line up Ricky Proehl. Hines can still be a productive slot receiver, as he pretty much had last year off.

He would serve as a valuable influence to Cam, as Hines could play about 20 plays per game. Hey, if the price is right, why not bring in some more experience. It's not as if the Panthers need Hines to collect 50 catches on the year...30-40 would be terrific and take pressure off of Smitty on the outside.

Yeah, like Scott ever knows what he is talking about!

Anonymous said...

NO NO NO NO WAY.....Hines is done...lets go after Torry Holt also....hahahaha.....

now Randy Moss would be interesting....

Anonymous said...

Bono, I couldn't have said it better myself. Imagine the pressure he would take off of our younger wr's. you have him, gettis, lafell, and smith spread out and d'will in the backfield with cam. imagine what kind of spread option you could run out of that! Not only that but he is a damn good blocking rec. Just like moose was. I would be stoked if we got him.

Greg said...

Deep threat other than Steve Smith? Look no further than David Gettis. He had an 88 yard TD that was more his speed burning the Ravens defense than a good pass from St. Pierre. Still cannot believe he was a quarterback for us. Anyways, I know he's coming off a knee injury but usually that makes a player more motivated. Welker destroyed his knee and he came back just as good as before. For once we don't need another WR. Please address the real issues of the team. Aging O-line, LB and CB depth, solid DT and a new kicker and punter.

Anonymous said...

Pleazzzzze....no old stealers has beens on our team......they smell too bad.....stale beer

Ricky Prowl said...

We already have an "aging" receiver. Time to develop Gettis and finally LaFell is showing what he can do. Plus, remember there is a salary cap problem, too. With the "core" players that got big contracts next year, the Panthers simply don't have a lot of money to spend, and what they do have needs to go toward the defense.

Prowl II said...

I meant big contracts LAST year...

blackspeak said...

As tempting as it is, I agree. Don't pick up Ward. too long in the tooth. He and Smith are the same age. Get the youth.

Anonymous said...

Good recommendation. Only three reasons you bring him in: 1) he came cheap, 2)he would be a mentor for the younger WR corp 3) he came cheap.

Steve Smith seems to be doing ok with #2 now, so probably a good plan to pass. Rather draft someone. this year's draft is deep at WR.

Anonymous said...

God, is this news? They shouldn't go after Hines any more than they do Lynn Swann... both are done!

Anonymous said...

Also in a word: No. Can't go for every big name guy who becomes available. That is what Snyder and Jerry do, not the Panthers. Though Shockey was kind of in that category, but he worked out I guess.

J said...

The only thing that amazes me more than CO writers bringing up "should Panthers sign (insert name of Ancient Player Du Juir here)" is the number of people who are putting all of their eggs in the basket named David Gettis.

Can I PLEASE have some of what y'all are smoking? You're having fascinating hallucinations and I feel like I'm missing out.

Apparently, I need to remind you again that Gettis had 2 good games on a 2-14 team scored so rarely it was headline news when they did. And that good game against Frisco where he caught the game-winning TD late? He was only a hero because he dropped the ball in the end zone earlier in the 4th quarter with no one covering him. If this isn't bad enough, John Fox absolutely loved him - and any skill position player that Fox loves is reason enough to run far away from him.

We could use another WR to go with Smith & LaFell, but Gettis is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Anonymous said...

"lost his burst" Heck, Hines never had a burst, so there is nothing to lose. He is a gritty receiver and the reason his production was down last season was because his playing time was severely limited. I think Hines can still be a great receiver in this league, but I also understand why the Steelers let him go. They have 2 GREAT young receivers in Wallace and Brown and their 3rd and 4th receivers are required to play special teams. Hines isn't a special teams player anymore.

Phil57 said...

Neither Gettis nor LaFell is a "game changer". Panthers need a stud to replace Smith when the time comes. But Ward and Moss...they are golden oldies and definitely not right for this team.

Michael Procton said...

7:13: The reason his snaps were limited is because he's not as good as even Arnaz Battle anymore. That's a PROBLEM.

Anonymous said...

Gettis is legit. He's a big receiver with track speed. No one is placing all of their eggs in his basket, but he does have potential to be a deep play threat. Hopefully he'll recover well from the injury.

If you're basing your opinion off of Gettis from the 2010 season, I'd suggest you at least give him a clean slate this season. He was catching passes in one of the worst offenses of all-time and still managed 3 TDs with Clausen and St. Pierre throwing the ball. Look at #89's numbers from that season.

I agree that the Cats have much bigger areas of concern (DT, CB, OT, LB).

I would love for the Cats to draft a returner/play-maker at some point. Like if Lamichael James was still there in the 3rd round or Isaiah Pead in the 5th. The Armanti experiment didn't work and we need a serious boost in the punt-return game.

Anonymous said...

The Panthers have no interest in getting a quality wide receiver to win championships...they are more focused on selling tickets, hot dogs and beer! So why not pick up Ward and fill the seats with Steeler transplants who will show up to root for their aging hero no matter what and put silver in the Richardson's coffers!

Xavier said...

Mike Wallace - give up a number one for him.

Anonymous said...

Moose is the best blocking receiver in the history of the NFL. We should bring him back. Smith, Moose, and Gettis = Superbowl

Anonymous said...

No need for a backup WR who can not play ST.

Anonymous said...

Since the Saints are needing to make room for Brees to cash in they are probably going to let some of there free agents go, and make some cuts at other places, I say if they cut Vilma, since we need another lb we sign him and start running a 3-4 and have Anderson, Beason, Vilma, and Davis. HOLY $#*% that would be the best LB corps in the league. I'm already getting excited about nothing. Oh well, one can dream right....

Anonymous said...

If we were to ever get J Vilma...... along with a healthy Davis, Beason, and Anderson......


WOW


But anyway, the only WR I think we should make a play for is Vincent Jackson. Why not? He's a free agent.

Anonymous said...

I am so thrilled that Hines Ward is leaving Pittsburgh because I would love to see him in Charlotte. I have been a huge fan of his for a long time, and can't even tell you how far back that goes!! The class and the passion exhibited in his words is so typical of what I have grown to know about him. I want him here - Please, Hines, you need to head South. He just needs a fresh change to get his speed and excitement back, and he would look great on the same field with Steve Smith and all of our other fabulous Panthers. I would love to send him a note that expresses that because I ache for what he feels right now, and I REALLY want him to think about us. The weather is soooooo much better here. He would be a huge inspiration for out team!!! If he will get this email, I will be thrilled; otherwise, I would love to know how else I might send him a communication. You're loved here, Hines.
Many thanks from a passionate southerner.

jason barber said...

ID RATHER THE PANTHERS OFFER A 3RD ROUND PICK THIS YEAR AND A THIRD ROUND PICK NEXT YEAR TO THE STEELERS FOR MIKE WALLACE.....MIKE WALLACE IS A FAR BETTER WIDE RECEIVER THAN AN AGING HINES WARD...AND A FASTER OPTION THAN HINES WARD..AS A MATTER OF FACT MIKE WALLACE COULD BE THE NEXT HINES WARD IF ONLY GIVEN A CHANCE

Anonymous said...

Randy Moss would actually be a NICE fit for a one year run...He will work for food...or the veteran minimum and if you put escalators in his deal for a 1,000 yard season, pro-bowl, 80 catches etc...he could perform...the worse the cats do is lose a mediocre signing bonus.

Gettis and Lafell are nowhere near being number two capable and for all we know Gettis may pull a Thomas Davis and blow out his knee again! Then what?

The Panthers had a similar chance to get Brandon Lloyd last season but did not and Lloyd went on to get 1,000 yards and in effect, he was better than Lafell, Naanee and Gettis all together! That is another Hurney mistake!

Thanks Marty

Anonymous said...

Jason Barber-
You said trade a 3rd rounder this year and next for Mike Wallace! FOr one, we do not have a 3rd rounder this year (Olson trade) and unless Big Ben is smoking chronic and making the GM moves himself..Wallace will cost more than a 3rd rounder!
Try two seconds or even a 1st and 2nd or a if they wanted him gone then maybe a 2nd and third...

Anonymous said...

Of course not. He's is finished after a great career. time to call it a day. go get V.jackson, Garcon, or colston

Anonymous said...

The Panthers need to focus on shoring up the D-Line and DB crew. Drafting Poe, and maybe a good WR in the second round, or going after V. Jackson once San Diego neglects to sign him is a good idea. No matter what receivers we have this year will be one tough offense to stop. Our defense concerns me. Our run D was horrible last year, which led to bad numbers in the secondary. Draft Poe, or Brockers (Poe preferrably) and then maybe a good CB/safety (Smith of ND if safety) in the second round.

Tyree Ross said...

I think Carolina should pursue Wide receiver Mario Manningham his young and his a playmaker

Tyree Ross said...

I think Carolina should pursue Wide receiver Mario Manningham his young and his a playmaker