By Darin Gantt and Charles Chandler
Posted: Friday, Mar. 05, 2010
Carolina Panthers Release Jake Delhomme
* The best and worst of Jake Delhomme
* Next to go: LB Landon Johnson
* Scott Says: Releasing Jake was big mistake
* Peppers will find a new team soon
* Kemoeatu follows fate of Delhomme, Lewis
* Poll: Do you agree with Panthers cutting Jake?
Despite their intense loyalty to Jake Delhomme over the years, the Panthers cut ties with their long-time QB Thursday night. Do you like the move?
No. Jake still had gas left in the tank.
Yes. Matt Moore is the future.
Yes. But only if they sign someone else at QB.
Your vote has been counted, thank you for voting.
Despite their intense loyalty to Jake Delhomme over the years, including when his critics were screaming loudest, the Carolina Panthers made the painful move Thursday night to cut ties with one of their signature players and release their veteran quarterback.
Delhomme's agent, Rick Smith, confirmed to the Observer Thursday night that the move had taken place, and that a press conference would be held today to announce his release. Team officials offered no comment Thursday night, and Delhomme didn't return messages.
The Panthers are still on the hook for nearly $13 million in guaranteed money from the contract extension they gave him last spring, but making the move now keeps them from suffering any salary cap consequences because the NFL has entered into an uncapped year.
In the short term, the move clears the way for Matt Moore to take over as the starter, after he was given the highest restricted free agent tender Wednesday.
It also opens the door for more speculation for other quarterback moves, as they'll obviously be in the market for at least one in free agency and/or the draft.
Delhomme, 35, who quarterbacked the Panthers to a Super Bowl berth and two NFC Championship Games, fell off precipitously from his previous level of play in 2009.
His demise began with a disastrous six-turnover performance against Arizona in the 2008 playoffs, and remained inconsistent during the '09 season. Starting with a five-turnover outing against Philadelphia in the opener, his season never really improved.
He threw a career high 18 interceptions last season, despite missing the last five games with a broken middle finger. That allowed Moore to become a late-season hero, and create the momentum that led to this decision.
Delhomme had a 4-7 record as a starter. Moore matched Delhomme's number of wins during the final five games.
Despite his '09 meltdown, Delhomme still leaves the Panthers with every significant franchise passing record, and a 58-40 record, including the playoffs.
However, like many other decisions the team's making, this one comes down to money.
They can cut him now with no salary cap ramifications - since there is no salary cap after midnight - but they'd still owe him $12.675 million based on guarantees built into the deal he signed last April as part of their effort to clear cap room to keep Julius Peppers.
He'd be owed $4.16 million in 2010, $5.12 million in 2011 and $3.4 million in 2012, with the contract written to guarantee those amounts for skill or injury.
It would, however, clear the books of his charges if a cap was re-instituted later.
It also keeps them from paying the $10.14 million bonus he was set to receive later this spring - in effect breaking the financial hit into three smaller chunks.