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Samir Suleiman: What he has already done to the Panthers


MHS831

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I think it is important to consider the timing of Suleiman's hire and his background if you want a glimpse of the future.

First, SS was the understudy of Pittsburgh's Omar Kahn, one of the best at his job in the NFL.  Pittsburgh is known for not holding onto players too long.  The Panthers, less than 10 years after Marty gave out fat contracts to RBs in a buyer's market at the position (2010, 11) have not demonstrated the same discipline.  Rob Rogers, the former capologist in Carolina, is now a Football Team capologist in Washington with Rivera.

The timing of Suleiman's hire is significant in assessing the direction of the franchise--January 2020.  At the time, it seemed as though the Panthers and Cam were going to get a contract worked out, based on his rehab and recovery.  However, Cam had not really had but 1 good season over the last 4, based on recurring, unrelated injuries.  The Panthers may not have handled the situation well, because we want our veterans praised and adored, especially if they produced here. I get that, and Cam did a lot for us as we did a lot for Cam ($$). 

But that is our weakness.  It is OK to honor players with praise and statues for the fans, but not with fat contracts for the player--contracts are for expected future performance, not rewards for days gone by.  Cam starts negotiating on social media.  The fans get behind him.  In the past, Marty probably writes that check--he did with Jake Delhomme after Tommy John surgery.  He paid DeAngelo Williams a huge contract 2 years after the RB's prime.  Marty gets emotional.  So why not this time--with the face of the franchise at stake? 

SS was hired in January and the combine was in February. Rhule was also new, and the questions about Cam Newton were frequent.  He never really committed to Cam, as Cam requested at the conclusion of his workout video that went viral in Instagram.  It was a tough situation, a real test for the front office.  But the team was facing huge cap issues, and SS was given a huge mess in that area, $50m in dead cap (it would become that, anyway).  McCoy and Irvin and Reid were not the answer. Davis is gone, Luke retires, and Newton is waiting by his phone.  Pressure from the fans is intense. Cam was expecting (according to the experts) a deal in the $30-35m range--per season, for at least 3 years---$100m to $120m for 4 seasons).

So the decision was made to move on from the face of the franchise.  The 49ers did it when they let Montana walk (but they had Young) and the Packers did it when they had Favre (but they had Rogers).  The Panthers had Grier.  It was a bold move.  The Steelers, on the other hand, were familiar with letting popular players walk--the secret to their success has always hinged on the art of letting players walk when they were seemingly in their primes--remember Barry Foster?  He came here and sucked.  Kevin Greene?  He did fine here, but was at the end of his career and was past his prime.  More recently, Antonio Brown (locker room) and Leveon Bell (contract).  Marty had issues with Steve Smith.  He paid Stewart and Williams above market value.  Did SS save us from signing Cam to a long term deal?  (Magic 8 ball says, "without a doubt")

SS brought an objective lens, but he has the right mentality to become the next GM here.  This from PFT in January, 2020, when SS was hired: 

Suleiman has been with the Steelers since 2013, and he has a rather interesting history in the league.

He filed a grievance against the Browns in 2009, and was reprimanded by the Rams for leaving a threatening message on the voicemail of then-local newspaper columnist Bernie Miklasz. After a report that he was stabbing former coach Mike Martz in the back. Suleiman left Miklasz message that said: “Tell your source I’m not a back-stabber, I’m a f–king throat-slasher, and he’ll know the difference before it’s all said and done.”

Oh my word!

Although we will never know how much of a role SS had on the Cam decision, an objective, outsider addition sure seemed to change the direction of the Panther-Cam relationship.  I have to think that Marty would have written Cam the check, feeling desperate and without options.

Instead, we sign Bridgewater, purge the roster of players past their primes (Olsen, McCoy, Irvin, Reid, Poe, etc.).  We dumped the Turner contract (essentially) in the Okung trade--whatever we get from RO is gravy.  But look at the Bridgewater deal--it is so front loaded, we basically get out of it after 2021.  It is basically a 2 year deal with a year 3 option.  When all you have is Grier, it was a team-friendly deal.  This is not to say that players that have yet to reach their primes will not be paid, but most cap hell comes from veterans who are adored and praised but when you get real, they are not worth the contracts. 

If we have another draft or two as solid as 2020's draft, this team will be great.  We will be able to cut veteran contracts.  Look at the top of our cap (2021)---KK Short, Bridgewater, Weatherly, Paradis, Thompson---sorry, but I do not see (if we draft a QB) a player in that list we cannot do without. Do you realize that these 5 players will count about $75m against the cap if they are kept on the roster?   We need a throat slasher.

When Marty cut Jake Delhomme after giving him a huge deal following surgery that ended his career, Marty flew to Chicago to meet with Jake's agent Rick Smith.  He reportedly cried when breaking the news.  Smith basically said afterwards (reflecting on the deal--paraphrasing) "Jake took care of the Panthers in 2009, so the Panthers took care of Jake in 2010 (referring to the ridiculous contract, at the time)."  Contracts are not rewards.  We need a throat slasher, and we sent in Wetsy Betsy.

SS represents the new direction of the front office in 2020 and beyond.  Marty's window is closed.  For those of you who loved Cam and wanted the Panthers to pay $100m or more to keep him here, he is about to be benched in New England.  He is terrible.  As I said last year, he is done--his body has paid the price for Ron's mishandling of him.   Instead of a butt wiper, we now have a throat slasher.  Good.

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Good perspective. Let’s not put too much weight in this dude’s court but it could be interesting to see what FO changes happen this off-season and how we manage a cap situation that’s actually growing healthier for us.

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1 minute ago, saX man said:

Good perspective. Let’s not put too much weight in this dude’s court but it could be interesting to see what FO changes happen this off-season and how we manage a cap situation that’s actually growing healthier for us.

Yeah, we really do not know the details behind the hire and his immediate impact, but Tepper loves the guy and did what he had to do to get him here. The moves are more Steeler-ish than traditional Panther moves--so the tea leaves are pointing to SS more than Hurney, in terms of contract offers and structures.  

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Didn't we sign Bridgewater and then cut Cam? I understood not signing Cam or even letting him go. Replacing him with Teddy was a tough pill to swallow but the way things went down with Cam was dumb. He was out talking publicly about his contract, a dicey route, and we held him way to long. What a clusterfug. And we gave up a guy for being what he looks like and brought in a guy that was to be better then who he always has been is a bit ironic since it was a lateral move. We still have no good answer at QB next year.  

I'm interested to watch SS with us. How is Moton's contract being handled. Reports or rumors of no contact but we are also going franchise tag? Thats a weird way of proceeding.

 

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While the throat slasher sound bite seems really sensational and maybe a little unhinged, I'm fairly certain he meant that he doesn't make moves behind people's backs, he does things while looking them in the eye. It sounds like maybe he's watched a few too many B-level mafia movies to be honest, but I do think it's always better to be up front with people when you're cutting/firing them or trying to move up the ladder past them. 

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10 minutes ago, Panther'sBigD said:

While the throat slasher sound bite seems really sensational and maybe a little unhinged, I'm fairly certain he meant that he doesn't make moves behind people's backs, he does things while looking them in the eye. It sounds like maybe he's watched a few too many B-level mafia movies to be honest, but I do think it's always better to be up front with people when you're cutting/firing them or trying to move up the ladder past them. 

Yeah, hopefully he's checked that ego because that was maximum cringe.

Not extending Cam was the right call. If he didn't fit Brady's system, parting ways with him was the right call. Signing Teddy 3 years/$63M was a mistake. Re-signing Shaq over Bradberry was a mistake. Inking CMC to a huge extension with two years remaining on his rookie deal was a mistake. Re-signing Boston to anything other than a very low dollar figure contract was a mistake. Signing Weatherly was a mistake. Picking up Kerr was a very underrated FA move. Signing Robbie Anderson felt like a stretch at the time but it has proven to be a very solid move.

 

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25 minutes ago, LinvilleGorge said:

Yeah, hopefully he's checked that ego because that was maximum cringe.

Not extending Cam was the right call. If he didn't fit Brady's system, parting ways with him was the right call. Signing Teddy 3 years/$63M was a mistake. Re-signing Shaq over Bradberry was a mistake. Inking CMC to a huge extension with two years remaining on his rookie deal was a mistake. Re-signing Boston to anything other than a very low dollar figure contract was a mistake. Signing Weatherly was a mistake. Picking up Kerr was a very underrated FA move. Signing Robbie Anderson felt like a stretch at the time but it has proven to be a very solid move.

 

I am assuming you just needed to add to your list to make it appear long, but I’m not sure how you can say extending CMC was a mistake. Same with weatherly considering his contract is a stop gap and short term, and has an out.  

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Just now, TheCasillas said:

I am assuming you just needed to add to your list to make it appear long, but I’m not sure how you can say extending CMC was a mistake. Same with weatherly considering his contract is a stop gap and short term, and has an out.  

Really? CMC was under contract for two more seasons. There was zero urgency to ink him to a new deal. 

Weatherly has been terrible.

These moves were dumb. Many of us questioned the timing of CMC's contract when it happened. It was just unnecessary to sign a guy to a huge extension when he was under contract for two more seasons at a high wear and tear position. The organization assumed all the risk there for minimal reward. Lo and behold, now CMC is struggling with injuries. I just hope that turns out to be a one year anomaly because if it doesn't the timing of that contract is going to go from mistake to HUGE mistake.

 

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Can't agree with the huddle majority as always. It seems to look like hey Cam isn't doing well in new England with a worse wr core than he has ever had here and we are doing worse with a replacement qb that is just middle of the roads is dumb to me. We could be doing exactly what we are doing with teddy with cam. New England largely off cams talents are still fighting for a playoff spot fyi.

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When your team is losing and filled with long term vets, the team really needs a hatchet man. And it is a job that gets fans up in arms when sacred cows get slaughtered.

They did the right thing in getting rid of Cam and bringing in Bridgewater. Cam was done and short of moving to a wishbone offense there wasn't a way to make use of him, especially at the prices he was looking for. Bridgewater wasn't brought in to be the franchise QB, he was brought in as a middle ground, decent QB who understood the game. What he did was give you a QB good enough to evaluate the rest of your offensive players without either overcoming their deficiencies or making them look bad by poor QB play. Will Grier obviously couldn't provide the players with decent enough play.

What did Teddy's play show? There was a time this season that we had three of the top 20 receivers in the league (two in the top 10). CMC was CMC (sadly injured, though) but there was enough run game for Davis to look like a good RB1 whereas he had always been a roster bubble guy. The o-line showed they could run block and that they were meh, but not awful, at pass blocking. Teddy was able to show that our TE room was a vast wasteland with no potential whatsoever. You can even say his play showed us that why Slye has a powerful leg, there is a major problem with when a clutch kicker is needed. Good leg, no grit.

Teddy gave us a good evaluation QB this year, and a good teaching QB for next year (if a good candidate falls to us) who can be sent to the bench without a fan revolt at mid-season. Also, in lieu of that third year option, Bridgewater might be willing to accept a decent multi-year back up QB contract.

Cam couldn't have done any of that, definitely not for Teddy's price. The cuts of Olsen (a tough one, but really a needed one), Reid, McCoy, Irvin and others, well, the writing was also on the wall and we needed someone say that 2019 was their career victory lap and we weren't going to pay for another one.

Yeah, we're losing, but it just looks and feels different, better, than it did last year. Now we're looking at a younger, leaner team building a future rather than some dragging, grinding march off to the Elephant Graveyard. It's hard to see heroes go, but it's harder to watch the shells of their old selves crumble to dust.

 

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51 minutes ago, LinvilleGorge said:

Really? CMC was under contract for two more seasons. There was zero urgency to ink him to a new deal. 

Weatherly has been terrible.

These moves were dumb. Many of us questioned the timing of CMC's contract when it happened. It was just unnecessary to sign a guy to a huge extension when he was under contract for two more seasons at a high wear and tear position. The organization assumed all the risk there for minimal reward. Lo and behold, now CMC is struggling with injuries. I just hope that turns out to be a one year anomaly because if it doesn't the timing of that contract is going to go from mistake to HUGE mistake.

 

Yeah, this past offseason was a mix of good and bad.

I love Anderson, Juston Burris, & Kerr looks like great bang for the buck.  Douglas is a solid mid-pack CB.

Weatherly, Whitehead, & Bridge were understandable moves that don't look great in retrospect. But gotta be frank, I won't act like I wasn't optimistic when they happened.

I really agree on the extensions.  They were a bit puzzling given the direction of the game these days.  I wonder what type of money we'd be looking at for CMC if we waited until this season to extend?  And Shaq is the type of solid but expendable player you would think someone with that Pittsburgh experience would let go.  They must've really thought he was ready for great things and quickly. 

 

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23 minutes ago, micnificent28 said:

Can't agree with the huddle majority as always. It seems to look like hey Cam isn't doing well in new England with a worse wr core than he has ever had here and we are doing worse with a replacement qb that is just middle of the roads is dumb to me. We could be doing exactly what we are doing with teddy with cam. New England largely off cams talents are still fighting for a playoff spot fyi.

This is what a lot of huddlers don't understand about Teddy's contract.  On the surface, you are 100% right.

The reason Teddy's contract is the way it is, and the reason we didn't keep Cam is quite simple.  Rhule / Brady wanted a young guy to coach up, and a mentor for him.  It's super clear there were doubts about Cam in the building, and honestly I don't see Cam's personality as that of a mentor.  Not saying Cam isn't a great locker room guy, fantastic leader, great servant in the community.  None of that.  I just don't see his personality allowing him to be a backup.  No different than Brett Favre or Peyton Manning.

In no way does this say Cam was/is washed up.  There is no way Cam goes into next year on a one year deal.  He's done "ok" in Foxboro with a new system, bad receivers and no offseason.  But let's be honest, he hasn't exactly lit it up either.

On the other hand, Teddy does have those mentor characteristics.  His contract is even constructed in such a way that if we had found "our guy" this last offseason, Teddy would still have started this year while mentoring him.  Next year, Teddy would stay around as the backup, albeit an expensive one and then a fallback for if "our guy" failed.  That same thing still holds true because of the contract.

We find "our guy" this offseason.  Teddy mentors him, and probably still at least begins the year (2021) as the starter.  If our guy gets ready quickly, maybe he takes over mid season.  Maybe we keep Teddy on in 2022 as the backup, again, albeit an expensive one.  If our guy fails, we have an average QB to at least let us compete.

I just don't get all the hate for the TB5 contract.  It just makes sense.  We needed at least two seasons from veteran QB with a mentoring personality.  Preferably three.  And we didn't want to break the bank.  Yea, 20 million sounds like a lot, but it's really only middle of the road for a QB.  Cam just wasn't going to check those boxes for us, and that is no slight against him.  I'm glad he's doing well, I hope he continues to get better, I hope he gets paid.  He just wasn't what our new staff wanted.

 

 

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1 hour ago, MHS831 said:

 

 

 

SS was hired in January and the combine was in February. Rhule was also new, and the questions about Cam Newton were frequent.  He never really committed to Cam, as Cam requested at the conclusion of his workout video that went viral in Instagram.  It was a tough situation, a real test for the front office.  But the team was facing huge cap issues, and SS was given a huge mess in that area, $50m in dead cap (it would become that, anyway).  McCoy and Irvin and Reid were not the answer. Davis is gone, Luke retires, and Newton is waiting by his phone.  Pressure from the fans is intense. Cam was expecting (according to the experts) a deal in the $30-35m range--per season, for at least 3 years---$100m to $120m for 4 seasons).

 

 

 

 

 

 

If anyone in this organization seriously considered such a contract for Cam then we have a huge problem. Cam Newton had long not  been a "franchise" QB. It was plain to see and remains so. Having said that, I still believe signing Bridgewater was a massive mistake, but cutting Cam was absolutely the proper decision.

I just wish we could have better positioned ourselves to use this season as a means to end with that end being a true franchise QB in this draft. In other words, this would have been a perfect season to tank. No to minimal fans in the stands, a salary cap that is still likely to contract for the foreseeable future, and  a potentially generational talent likely to declare for the draft. 

It strikes me that the one person who really suffered in the tank scenario was Marty Hurney who is operating on the last year of his deal. The length and breadth of Rhule's deal augured (and by extension his staff) for the tank reality.

It is likely water under the bridge now, but the Covid outbreak and McCaffrey's status could provide a nice cover to simply lose the rest of our games to better position us for the draft. However, without a massive trade, Trevor Lawrence will remain out of reach.

 

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