There’s a widespread perception that the Carolina Panthers are holding the line on spending until the owners and players reach a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. But Panthers owner Jerry Richardson claims the decision to let some veterans leave and not spend much money on acquiring new ones is unrelated to the CBA.
“We were at a point with our football team that we had to make some tough football decisions, which were separate of the CBA,” Richardson told the team-owned Roar Magazine (PDF here). “We have a number of younger players who showed promise at the end of last season and need to get on the field.”
Richardson said the departures of veterans like Jake Delhomme and Julius Peppers were difficult decisions made by General Manager Marty Hurney and coach John Fox to help the team move forward on the field, not to help the team’s bottom line. And he said acquiring big-name talent in free agency hasn’t worked for the Panthers.
“The years when we were big players in free agency did not seem to turn out as well,” Richardson said. “The approach has worked well over eight years and we still have the goal of a championship.”
As Steve Reed of CarolinaGrowl.com points out, Richardson refuses interview requests with members of media outlets that he doesn’t own — probably because he doesn’t want to be asked about sensitive subjects like the resignations of his sons Jon and Mark, both of whom left the team over what were described as “sibling disputes.” Richardson also likely doesn’t want to be asked about the decision not to extend Fox’s contract, which the team-owned magazine doesn’t touch on.
Richardson did, however, address his own health, saying, “I’m getting stronger and have more energy” after a heart transplant last year.