As for quarterback Jake Delhomme getting a new contract, that won't happen until at least May or June, according to his agent Rick Smith.
Smith said the team has expressed an interest if reworking Delhomme's contract, which runs out after the 2004 season and he's confident a deal will get done before the season. However, Smith and the Panthers have agreed to allow general manager Marty Hurney to work on more pressing issues before addressing Delhomme's contract.
"Jake is very happy there and he loves the situation he's in," Smith said. "We think he'll be playing quarterback there for a long time."
Delhomme stepped in the first week of the 2003 season and helped the Panthers erase a 17-point deficit to the Jacksonville Jaguars and won 24-23. He went 12-6 the rest of the way as a starter, leading the Panthers to their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
After a slow start against the Patriots, Delhomme turned in a magnificent effort throwing for over 300 yards and three touchdowns in the defeat. Included in that was a Super Bowl record 85-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad.
Delhomme is a pretty laid-back player and isn't the type to hold the Panthers ransom for a big contract. Expect him to work within the framework of the team's salary cap and allow the Panthers to sign some players that will help them get back to the Super Bowl.
Delhomme is a winner, but the scary thing is his skills aren't completely polished and he will get better in 2004.