Panthers Sign FS Bashir

The Carolina Panthers took a break from the steroid scandal on Thursday long enough to sign free agent safety Idrees Bashir to a 1-year deal, reportedly for a base salary of $540,000. <br><br> Bashir comes to Carolina from Indianapolis, where he started 51 games at free safety since being drafted in the second round of the 2001 draft.

Bashir showed great promise in his rookie season, but the consensus from NFL scouts is that he has not progressed the way he should have, which led to the Colts' drafting of Bob Sanders last year to fill their long-term need at free safety.

A smart safety who makes very little mistakes, Bashir has very good range in zone coverage and is a reliable tackler. Bashir doesn't make big plays, however, and lacks great leaping ability and sometimes mis-times jumps in coverage.

Bashir doesn't come to Carolina without his baggage. He missed 11 starts in his career because of hamstring and shoulder injuries, and his durability is in question. If he can prove durable in 2005, he may play his way into a long term deal with the Panthers.

The Panthers Free Safety in 2004, Colin Branch, more than likely will move to a back-up role at strong safety behind veteran Mike Minter. Branch is more of a hitter than a centerfielder, and is a natural for the strong safety position. He was often out of position last season, which led to the Panthers looking outside the organization for help. Bashir should compete with fellow newcomer Marlon McCree for the starting free safety position.

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