Former Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme certainly knows about an unceremonious end to a good run in Carolina.
But the Super Bowl starter on the best Panthers team said he’s a little nervous about the spot they’re currently in.
Delhomme told Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review during an interview with WFNZ that for all the offseason changes, replacing former teammates Jordan Gross and Steve Smith was going to be difficult.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt there was some more tread left on his tires,” Delhomme said of Gross. “He could still play. That’s going to be a big loss for that team. I think you’ll truly understand how good Jordan was on and off the field this year, and for years to come. He was much more than just a left tackle.”
Gross decided against a comeback, a year after the team strong-armed him into a pay cut. Smith was booted primarily because G.M. Dave Gettleman didn’t want him around impressionable young receivers (including first-rounder Kelvin Benjamin).
But the loss of the two captains will create a new burden for other young players.
“It’s a changing of the guard,” Delhomme said. “That’s what happens in the NFL sometimes. This is now Luke Kuechly’s team and Cam Newton’s team, . . . Is it time for a new regime to take over? Is that the direction they’re going? It seems that way.
“That’s why you have General Managers to make tough calls. Emotions, you have to take out of it, which is very hard to do sometimes. But that’s the decision that they feel going forward. Only time will tell.”
The difference between Delhomme’s departure and these is primarily that there’s a quarterback in place. That should prevent the Panthers from the kind of 2-14 bottoming out they had with Jimmy Clausen at the helm, but without a viable replacement for Gross, Newton might have a hard time getting his team back to the playoffs.