Hitting the Carolina Panthers hot spots

The Carolina Panthers are next in our series of team-by-team mailbags.

Bill in Colorado Springs asks what I think the odds are Carolina will trade down from the No. 1 overall draft pick.

Pat Yasinskas: Slim. I think the Panthers certainly would entertain any offers, but I don’t think they’re going to get many of them. I don’t think there’s a clear-cut No. 1 choice that everybody wants -- at least not yet. Also, if there’s no labor agreement, I really think that will make it impossible for the Panthers to trade down. If the labor deal is finished before the draft and it includes some sort of rookie pay scale, that might make the pick a little more attractive to other teams. But, still, it’s a lot easier to talk about trading down than actually getting a strong opportunity to do it.

Mike in Winston-Salem, N.C., likes the fact the Panthers signed tight end Jeremy Shockey, but is surprised by it because owner Jerry Richardson said there would be no player moves until a new labor deal was in place. Mike asks if the Shockey signing might be a sign Richardson is confident a labor deal is coming.

Pat Yasinskas: Interesting question. Richardson has final say on everything that happens in that building. I’m just sort of speculating here, but I’m thinking coach Ron Rivera, offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski (who coached Shockey in college at Miami) and general manager Marty Hurney came to Richrdson, told them they viewed Shockey as a perfect fit for this system and convinced him they had to act quickly. Not sure that Richardson believes a deal is imminent, but I’m glad to see him at least doing something about the future of his football team.

Mitchell in Walkerton, N.C., asks about the Panthers' bringing back quarterback Jake Delhomme as a veteran option if he’s the odd man out in Cleveland.

Pat Yasinskas: Absolutely not. Let me first say, I like and respect Delhomme as much as any player I’ve ever covered. There are a lot of people with the Panthers who feel the same way about him, and he did some great things for that franchise through the years. But the Panthers can’t bring him back now, and it’s for the same reason they paid him $12.5 million to walk out the door last year. Delhomme’s final season in Carolina and the playoff loss to Arizona the year before were absolutely disastrous. I still can’t figure out exactly how he lost it, but he suddenly turned into Steve Sax when it came to throwing the ball. He couldn’t do it anymore. The Panthers couldn’t keep him last year because it would have sent a message to the rest of the team that the Panthers had no chance on offense. I know it turned out to be bad last year with the quarterback situation. But, still, the Panthers need to take a step forward, not two steps back.

Mike in Pittsburgh says he’s a little frustrated by some in the media repeatedly saying the Panthers will draft Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers because they have a “void’’ at that position.

Pat Yasinskas: Yep, I’m with you. There is no “void’’, assuming the Panthers keep possible free agent Charles Johnson, and I think they will. Johnson emerged as a strong pass-rusher last season. Everette Brown's not a bad player, and there are a lot of people in the organization who believe Greg Hardy can be a force if he stays focused on football. Bowers is a talent, so the Panthers at least have to look at him. But I think defensive tackle clearly is the bigger need on the defensive line.

Roddrick in Charlotte says Carolina’s quarterback problems aren’t going to be solved by anyone on their roster and drafting a quarterback might not produce instant results. He wonders if trading for or signing a veteran might be a better option, and asks if Carson Palmer or Donovan McNabb would be a better fit.

Pat Yasinskas: Just my opinion, but I’d pass on the quarterbacks in this draft. I’m just not sold on them, and Carolina can get its long-term quarterback in another year or two. The rest of this roster isn’t all that bad. Bring in someone like Palmer or McNabb, and I think they instantly make the offense respectable and the entire team competitive. I like both of those guys you mention, and I also like Kevin Kolb. But one thing that will factor into the decision if the Panthers go the veteran route is the price tag. What would they have to give up to get Kolb, McNabb or Palmer? And what would they have to pay one of those guys? We still don’t know the answer to that, but I’m sure Hurney and his staff are looking into that.