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Quarterback Jake Delhomme is released by NFL Carolina Panthers in Charlotte NC.
Despite their intense loyalty to Jake Delhomme through 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 & long time quarterback.
Delhomme’s agent, Rick Smith, confirmed to the Charlotte Observer on Thursday night that the move had taken place, and that a press conference would be held Friday 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 year, 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 his 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 at a later date.
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.
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