Stugie: Is Morgan a Lemon?

What do you do with a Lemon? My dad bought a truck a few years back only to discover that it was very temperamental in its ability to perform consistently. In his ability to work out a deal, he traded it in on another truck. A truck that performed up to his expectations. The Panthers find themselves in a similar situation, as they stand at a crossroads with starting middle linebacker Dan Morgan.

While on the field he is an extreme asset to the team. However, he has had trouble over the years staying on the field. He was drafted with the highest of expectations that he would be a durable player. While at the University of Miami, Morgan was the only player in team history to have 4 consecutive years of over 100 tackles each. You achieve that through the ability to staying healthy on the field.

Since coming into the NFL, Dan hasn't had a problem while on the field, the problem has been keeping him on it. In 2001, his rookie year, Morgan broke his left leg while scrambling after Brett Favre, missing 5 games that year. He missed 8 games in 2002, sitting out with groin and shoulder injuries. While playing with a broken hand, Morgan, missed 5 games in the 2003 season with concussions and hamstring injuries. Last year Dan's healthiest year yet, he played in only 12 contests and missed 4 games due to concussions.

Morgan is now in his final year of his 5 year contract, and to complicate things, Will Witherspoon, the Panthers strong side linebacker, will be an unrestricted free agent after this season as well. Witherspoon, who has been very durable, is likely to command a hefty contract for his time spent on the field.

The question isn't so much can the Panthers sign the two respectable linebackers, but who would they rather have? The dependable and versatile Will Witherspoon or the ever injured Dan Morgan, who has yet to play through an entire year. If I were a betting man, I would place my money on Will Witherspoon as the most likely of the two to get a long term contract. If Morgan does stay healthy, I say give him his just reward, however, if he proves once again that he can't stay on the field then I say you have to rid yourself of the lemon.

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