Here's my take on who needs to go, and who doesn't.
Most of these thoughts were formed before tonight's game. Only a few are new, with the very first being the most obvious of the "new" batch
JAKE DELHOMME: I'm as big a fan of Delhomme as you'll find, but I'm not sure his teammates can follow him into battle in the future as confidently as they did before. If they can, then he stays, and it'll be a testament to just how much respect he command in the locker room. Much as I hate it though, i just don't see that happening.
My best hope: the team keeps him on-board in some sort of coaching capacity. Delhomme has shown himself to be the kind of guy you want as a mentor to the younger QBs. Mike McCoy critics would likely love to see Delhomme replace his QB coach. I doubt we'll see that (at least not next year) but he's good for the team, and I'd love to see his influence remain even if it isn't in an on-field role. Delhomme is a conundrum. So is QB. One area of the game that every year you hope and pray something gets worked on, an area gets improved, or a competent guy gets brought in to back him up but it never does happen
MIKE TRGOVAC: To be clear, I'm not new to the anti-Trgo movement, but I think tonight was definitive. yes, the defense didn't give up as much in the second half, but I think you'd have to say the Cardinals took their foot off the gas (and why not? we were posing no threat) This is just the latest of many Trgovac blunders. What looked like a top ten defense fell apart after the bye and never got back together. Maybe teams got wise to the ultra-conservative scheme. I, personally, want an Eagles defensive assistant, maybe Sean McDermott, somebody who's going to teach these players to ATTACK THE BALL and wreak havoc. Then again, like mentioned above, this is just another phase of the game you hope gets worked on every year and never does.
KEN LUCAS: That he's miscast as a physical corner on a defense that prefers zone coverage is valid, and not his fault. With that said, his combination of age, salary and overall quality make it pretty unlikely he'll still be a Panther next season. Shame because I like him. The downside though? I'm not dead certain that his heir apparent, Richard Marshall, is the answer as a starting corner. maybe he is, but I'm not convinced of that at this point. Lucas is not a bad player, and he wouldn't be an issue if he didn't cost so much money against the cap. We might need that cash to improve other areas (i.e. interior Dline needs some serious help) so he might actually be a cap casualty.
JEREMY BRIDGES: This one's iffy, because both Jordan Gross and Geoff Hangartner are free agents this offseason. What happens with them could have a big impact on whether Bridges sticks around, especially Hangarter. If the team hangs on to Hangartner, it could be bad news for his CPI security partner. Hurts me a lot to say it because I've always liked Bridges, but with the line depth overall better and the notion that at least a few tweaks happen every offseason, his time as a Panther could be at an end. My overall sense is that it will be, but I could easily be wrong. Bridges, is, at best, a backup you can rely on to play a game or two in place of a banged up starter. To fill-in the entire rest of the season? Not so much. Bridges made a name for himself because at the time we signed him, people like Evan Mathis were starting on the line, and the competition at RT was nowhere to be found when Gross had to move over to the other side. If he wants to continue backing up, keep him, if he wants to start, sayonara.
NICK GOINGS: The Panthers longtime Mr. Reliable largely disappeared this past season. the emergence - and durabilty - of Jonathan Stewart, made him redundant. It's honestly hard to imagine a Panther roster without Nick Goings, but come next year I have a feeling you won't need an imagination to see it.
DAMIONE LEWIS: I like Lewis, but I like him a lot better as a situational rusher than I do as an every down lineman. Likewise I prefer Ma'ake Kemoeatu as a two down player geared toward running downs. To be clear, I believe the team made the right decision when it ousted Kris Jenkins. With that said, I also think the team needs to find an every down DT to take his spot next year, allowing them to go back to using Kemo and Lewis situationally as they did when Jenkins was here. Lewis is just not conditioned to be an every down lineman. He gets tired and he can't penetrate the line as good the further and further the game progresses. That's why he never made noise in St Louis. We need to bring in some role players and really create a nice rotation here. Rocky Bernard's due out of Seattle and he's had success working in their rotation. I think a little rest here and there would be good for everybody.
JEFF KING: Yeah, I know I'm reaching here, but I'm holding out hope that this will be the offseason the team finally decides to ditch the "one blocker, one receiver" model at tight end and goes after a Jason Witten / Todd Heap / Dallas Clark type TE that can do both things well. Being brutally honest, nobody has to respect Jeff king as a receiver. We need someone starting at tight end that teams do have to account for while also being someone who can contribute in the run game as well. Good as the offense was this year, that one thing could have made it all that much better. Here's the deal. King is not a weapon on offense. He's not the best blocker either. Nobody's afraid if he goes and runs a route because he might not even catch the ball anyway. And here it is again. TE, it's another area we all hope gets improved upon, though not as much as other areas, but never does. He'll probably get dropped and we will cycle everybody up a notch to Rosario, Barnidge, 2nd day draft pick.
NA'IL DIGGS: You might read this and think "Diggs did nothing glaringly wrong this season" and you'd be right. With that said, I think his best contribution on the defense has been veteran presence and leadership. At this point, I believe Jon Beason has enough seasoning to fill that role, and for that reason i can see Diggs being demoted so that a younger, faster guy can take over, solidifying what could be one of the best linebacking corps in the league (if they get the right guy). I honestly believe if Landon Johnson performed better this season, or at least up to the par i thought he would, Diggs would have been a backup long before the season was over. It obviously wouldn't hurt to get someone in here with speed and youth on their side.
BRAD HOOVER: In one or two cases, I'm not so much looking for a replacement as I am a successor. At the top of that list, longtime fullback and one time pie-in-the-face victim Brad Hoover. I think it's long past time we had an "heir apparent" waiting behind Hoover. As I've stated before, no disrespect to Hoover but I'd like for the next fullback to be more of a Howard Griffith / Lorenzo Neal type sledgehammer back.
MUHSIN MUHAMMAD: Moose was great this year, and I do believe he's got one more year like that in him. With that said though, the team needs someone of similar pedigree waiting in the wings. Sadly, I don't think either DJ Hackett or Dwayne Jarrett is "that guy". If the team finds someone who is ready to go, then by the middle of next season I think it's conceivable that Moose moves into the "Ricky Proehl" position as the savvy veteran number three. Mind you, this can only truly work if his replacement is at least somewhere close to Moose in the blocking skill department. Otherwise the run game may suffer. This WR coaching hasn't churned out any real talent since Smith. I mean man we used to pump em out easy. Mark Carrier, the aforementioned Moose, hell, even Rae Carruth had a decent 97 campaign, before, well, you know. Now nobody's growing as a WR on this team. It's one thing that might only be remedied by grabbing a FA, but that might not even happen
Without much comment, here are the people whose ouster and or replacement I think some folks will be calling for undeservedly:
Charles Godfrey (hit the rookie wall, but still good for the future) he's young, but I'm not all that comfortable with not at least bringing a guy in to compete.
Tyler Brayton/Charles Johnson (an able enough rotation on the other side if Peppers stays) I actually like the combo here. It's a good rotation that if we build upon and fine-tune, we could have a rotation similar to what the Giants have.
Mark Jones (unspectacular perhaps, but solid and improving) Jones is the best returner we've had in a while. Definitely a keeper, which means other fan favorites might get pushed out (Ryne Robinson)
John Kasay (still has a year two in him, Rhys Lloyd looks like a decent understudy) Kasay can boot field goals till his foot falls off for all I care, as long as he's good at it, and he's shown no sign of deteriorating.
Julius Peppers / Jordan Gross (not a doubt in my mind now that both need to be re-signed)
Jeff Davidson (still learning, and was outmatched tonight, but is steadily getting better)
John Fox (still the best coach the Panthers have had; any calls to get rid of him now are unfounded) Because of the health our owner is in, yea, not going to happen this year, so all speculation on that is moot anyway.