The Down Low

Get the latest underground rumblings from the Panthers, plus potentially monumental news coming out of KC regarding Priest Holmes and QB news from Cleveland.

The Down Low -- "To keep quiet on something. To not tell people about something. To not divulge information to people that should not know about something. Keeping certain information limited to a certain group or between two people." -- Urban

The following is the word on the street, nothing more than gossip, really, but it's interesting nonetheless and food for thought.

Priest Holmes to Retire… this week?
Several sources are indicating that KC Running Back Priest Holmes will announce his retirement in the next few days because of a cyst or some kind of damage on his neck/spine that if aggravated further could lead to his paralysis.

According to Warpaint Illustrated, Holmes visited a spine expert in California last week, and returned from Miami last night after getting a third opinion on his injured neck.

Sources say a television report in KC yesterday stated that Holmes would announce his retirement in the next few days.

Goings to get more carries?
Sources within the Panthers have stated that Nick Goings will start becoming more and more a part of the gameplan as the Panthers enter the second half of the season. Goings gained 821 yards and 6 TDs on 217carries in the last half of the 2004 season, is a reliable receiver on passing downs and pass-protects well. With Stephen Davis and Deshaun Fosters' 2006 status still up in the air (Davis is rumored to be cut in the offseason, Foster is to be an UFA), Goings could be one of the starting HB options for the Panthers next season.

Disdain with first day picks?
The Panthers haven't admitted it publicly, but all indications are that they are very disappointed with their 2005 first day draft picks on the whole.

Thomas Davis struggled in his first and only start at Safety, which has relegated him to special teams and situational pass rushing duties.

Of all of the first round picks from the Fox/Hurney Era ( Peppers, Gross, Gamble and Davis), Davis is the only first round pick that has not started from the get-go. Both players drafted in front and behind of Davis (OT Brown in New Orleans, LB Johnson in KC) have been impact rookies for their teams.

Word also has it that the staff was extremely disappointed with second round pick Eric Shelton, and placed him on the IR in lieu of releasing him. Word has it that his injured foot has already healed, and that Shelton would have only missed a third of the season had he not been put on the injured list. They aren't ready to give up on him just yet, but the Panthers won't hesitate to draft a RB high next year if the right one is available.

Atiyyah Ellison was a disappointment, being shuffled between the practice squad and active roster the entire first half of the season after initially being the lowest 2005 draft pick in the NFL cut this Summer. The fact that no team has signed him and only 1 team has shown any kind of interest in him is a tell-tale sign that someone made a mistake on draft day.

Evan Mathis has been used on special teams and got some garbage time late in the game against Minnesota after it was well in hand. Mathis is viewed as a player that would step into the spot vacated by Tutan Reyes in 2006 when he becomes an unrestricted free agent, as the Panthers would unlikely retain Reyes unless he is willing to sign cheaply.

A lot of the 2005 failure (and we call it a failure already because half the draft picks aren't on the active roster not even half way through the season they were drafted in), could fall on the shoulders of Tony Softli, the Panthers Director of College Scouting. If you recall, Softli was schmoozed by the Seattle Seahawks during the offseason and before the draft as a candidate for their open team president position. Perhaps someone was taking care of their own house before attending to the Panthers?

T.O. a Panther in 06?
Perhaps the most gifted WR this side of Steve Smith, Terrell Owens is an enticing bit of bait that should be on the free agent market next summer. With Ricky Proehl more than likely retiring, Rod Gardner more than likely moving on to be a starter elsewhere and Keary Colbert having a less-than-stellar season, don't look for the Panthers to make a move to obtain the oft troubled WR. His personality would be a great disruption to locker room unity and wouldn't mesh well with guys like Steve Smith and Jake Delhomme, who give 110% each game and aren't playing for the money.

But who would fill the void?

Here are some names to keep an eye on:

Arnaz Battle, SF – RFA
Antonio Bryant, CLE – UFA
Nate Burleson, MIN – RFA
Reche Caldwell, SD – UFA
Jabar Gaffney, HOU – UFA
David Givens, NE – UFA
Brandon Lloyd, SF – RFA
Reggie Wayne, IND – UFA

Wesley Walls to retire a Panther?
Sources close to the situation state that the plan was for the Panthers to resign Walls and let him retire a panther (much like they did with Steve Beuerlein), but the death of Sam Mills and the mentioning of Walls' name in the ongoing steroid scandal put the kybosh on this, at least for now.

Frye's on Deck?
We're hearing in Cleveland that while the fans are ravenous for a QB change, Management plans to stick with Trent Dilfer, barring any injury. No one in Cleveland has playoff hopes this year, and they feel that while Frye may be their man in the future, they'd rather play it safe with a veteran than throw Charlie Frye into the fire, ala Aex Smith.

Dilfer has performed reasonably well this season, guiding the team to a 3-5 record. While that's not great, the attitude in Cleveland is generally positive and steps are being made in the right direction. The fans are desperate to accelerate that process, but Crennel and Savage seem to be happy to stay the course. Don't hold your breath, Charlie Frye fans... it appears his local McDonalds commercials are as close as you're going to get to seeing him on the field any time soon.

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