Offseason Update - 3-14

One day after Dwayne Jarrett was arrested on DWI charges, the Carolina Panthers began showing real interest in unrestricted free agent wide receiver D.J. Hackett from the Seattle Seahawks. Hackett visited Washington on Wednesday, Tampa Bay on Thursday and was to meet with Carolina Today, according to his agent Kevin Robinson.

Outside of perhaps Arizona's Bryant Johnson, Hackett, 26, is considered the highest-ranked wide receiver left on the free agent market and would seem to a be a great fit for the Panthers possibly as the No. 2 receiver opposite Steve Smith.

When healthy, Hackett has been a productive player for the Seahawks.

However, a high ankle sprain kept him out of 10 games last season for the Seahawks. In the six games he did start, he caught 32 passes for 384 yards and three touchdowns. He also had six catches for 101 yards and a touchdown in Seattle's first-round playoff win over the Redskins.

However, injury concerns may have scared some teams off. Hackett missed two games in 2006 and three in 2005.

After going without a catch his rookie season in 2004, Hackett caught 28 passes for 400 yards and two scores the following season. In 2006, he had his best season with 45 receptions for 610 yards and four touchdowns.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Hackett would give the Panthers a sure-handed receiver to go along with Smith, Muhsin Muhammad, Jarrett and Ryne Robinson. Over the past two seasons, Hackett has only dropped one pass.

According to sources close to the situation, the Panthers had shown some early interest in Hackett but it suddenly increased on Tuesday after Jarrett's arrest and the fact that divisional rival Tampa Bay was suddenly interested in him.

TOP NEEDS

1. Offensive tackle: This is a glaring need for the Panthers and one everyone expects they will fill with their first pick in the NFL draft. The Panthers pick 13th and there should be plenty of good tackles available. There is also talk that the team may trade up to get Ryan Clady.

2. Defensive tackle: The Panthers still haven't filled the void created by trading Kris Jenkins to the New York Jets. They've talked with Darwin Walker, Rod Coleman and Ian Scott, but have signed none.

3. Free safety: We're still not sure who is the starter here. Deke Cooper has not been re-signed. Nate Salley would seem to be the penciled in starter, but he missed all of last year with a knee injury and hasn't ever been a starter. It's hard to count on him. Look for the team to address this need in the draft.

MEDICAL WATCH: Quarterback Jake Delhomme is expected to begin throwing a real football either later this month or early next month. He is recovering from elbow surgery that forced him out of 13 games last season.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: OT Jordan Gross (tendered $7.455M).

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--FS Deke Cooper played well after being tossed into the starting lineup following an injury to Nate Salley. Cooper may want to explore the market, but look for the Panthers to make a run at bringing him back.

--CB Curtis Deloatch was brought in as a fourth cornerback before injuring his knee. He is not considered a top priority.

--TE Christian Fauria was brought in to be a mentor to the younger tight ends on the roster. His job is done and at age 36 he may be ready to retire.

--LB Terence Melton was supposed to help out on special teams but tore up his knee in the preseason and went on IR. He still could return for a minimum contract.

--DE Mike Rucker wants to play again but if he returns it might be as a backup.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--OG Geoff Hangartner (tendered at $1.47M with 2nd-round pick as compensation) is a decent lineman who has good skills. A potential starter in the league down the road.

--OT Evan Mathis (tendered at $927,000 with 3rd-round pick as compensation) started 15 games in 2006 but went back to a reserve role last year. A mountain of a man who could play for other teams.

--LB Adam Seward (tendered at $927,000 with 5th-round pick as compensation) is a backup linebacker who plays mostly on special teams. A little slow to be a full-time linebacker.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--LB Brandon Jamison has made a career out of being a special teams guy.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED
--DE/DT Tyler Brayton: UFA Raiders; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--CB Ricardo Colclough: UFA Browns; $4M/2 yrs, SB unknown.
--LB Landon Johnson: UFA Bengals; $10M/3 yrs, $3M SB; 2008 cap: $1.7M.
--WR Muhsin Muhammad: FA Bears; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--RB LaBrandon Toefield: UFA Jaguars; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--OG Keydrick Vincent: UFA Cardinals; $2M/2 yrs, $400,000 SB.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED
--QB Brett Basanez: Potential ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR Jason Carter: Potential ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB Donte Curry: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--DT Gary Gibson: Not tendered as ERFA; terms unknown.
--RB Alex Haynes: Potential ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--FB Brad Hoover: UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--DT Damione Lewis: Potential UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--S Nate Salley: ERFA; terms unknown.
--CB Dante Wesley: Potential UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--OT Travelle Wharton: Potential UFA; $36M/6 yrs, $12M guaranteed.
--DB C.J. Wilson: potential ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

PLAYERS LOST
--QB David Carr (released).
--WR Drew Carter: UFA Raiders; $2M/1 yr, SB unknown.
--WR Keary Colbert: UFA Broncos: $7.3M/3 yrs, SB unknown.
--RB DeShaun Foster (released).
--C Justin Hartwig (released).
--DT Kris Jenkins (traded Jets).
--S Marquand Manuel: UFA Broncos; $4.5M/3 yrs, $500,000 guaranteed.
--DT Kindal Moorehead: UFA Falcons; terms unknown.
--LB Dan Morgan (released).
--QB Vinny Testaverde (UFA; retired).
--OG Mike Wahle (released).


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