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Archive for April 20th, 2009

Panthers on the clock: Defense

The NFL draft starts Saturday. What are the Panthers up to?

The simple answer is probably not a lot. They only have five picks over the draft’s seven rounds (no first or seventh rounders) and because they went 12-4 in the regular season last year their picks are late in the rounds that they do have picks.

The Panthers are also very salary cap tight because of their putting a franchise tag on Julius Peppers at an above market rate. Presuming Pep doesn’t get traded, that means they have to make every dollar count. And the draft is a way to obtain talent at low dollar costs. So what can we expect?

Defensive tackle: The Panthers biggest need. The two starters, Maake Kemoeatu and Damione Lewis, are both north of 30 and it’s questionable whether the other DTs on the roaster are ready yet/are impact players. The Panthers simply need to get younger here. This is also the position were a rookie could see really playing time (defensive linemen rotate to keep them fresh). The odds on place were the Panthers spend their first pick (#59 overall) if they don’t trade JP.

Corner back: After cutting Ken Lucas, the Panthers are in the market for another cornerback to add depth. It’s not as much of a need as DT but still something the Panthers will want to address sooner rather than later in the draft. Best guess is their third rounder (#93 overall) subject to exactly who is available.

Defensive end: Does Pep stay or go? That’s the big question for the Panthers. Even if he stays in 2009, it’s doubtful he’s here in 2010 (year older, even higher franchise tag figure). If he stays, another DE is a possibility in this draft. If he goes, it’s probably a necessity though maybe still a lesser need than DT as the Panthers have more depth and upside at DE even without Pep than they have at DT.

Linebacker: The conventional wisdom is that the Panthers are set at linebacker. The conventional wisdom is wrong. They are set at middle and weakside linebacker (Jon Beason and Thomas Davis respectively). Beyond that it gets murky fast. Na’il Diggs has started for the Panthers the past few years but turns 31 in July. Landon Johnson was brought in last year for big bucks to challenge Diggs but was a major disappointment (16 tackles all season, most on special teams). James Anderson, now in his fourth year, was apparently sucked off the planet Earth for about a year stretch. Or at least it seemed that way, as he wasn’t getting a jersey on Sundays. Dan Connor may be Diggs’ heir apparent, but he’s only in his second year and is coming off a torn ACL he suffered early last season.

The Panthers like drafting LBs as special teams players if nothing else and I don’t expect this year to be any different given all the question marks at the position. Expect maybe a 5th (#163 overall) or 6th round (#202) pick here.

Safety: Both starters and backups are back under contract for next year. If the Panthers had more picks, I could imagine they drafting someone to compete for a job. The Panthers don’t have that luxury, so don’t expect them to take a safety unless they feel someone is very talented relative to the draft position.

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LYNX Can’t Save McIntosh’s

Being a stone’s throw from $550m. worth of light rail line did not save McIntosh’s Steaks & Seafood. It is kaput after 13 years in business at the corner of South and East Blvds.

Now, is it remotely reasonable to infer the closing has much of anything to do with the choo-choo? No. Which illustrates the point that crediting business success with proximity to the line is similarly delusional and simplistic.

Yet everyday you work to pay the salaries of city employees who do that very thing. Yum!

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Gorman Turns Down New Job. For Now.

This is creepy. I was talking to or emailing someone the other day — I want to say former Mecklenburg County commissioner Jim Puckett, but I could be completely wrong — and we noted that it is about time for CMS super Peter Gorman to start making noises about leaving for greener pastures. Call it the three-year itch.

Boom. Sure enough, Gorman lets drop that he was asked to join the Obama administration as part of the Department of Education. He of course said no as no one in their right mind would give up the salary and perks Gorman has here in Charlotte for a job as a federal bureaucrat in DC.

But a message was sent all the same to the CMS board, the local business community, and anyone paying attention: I have options, I am in demand. Do not chase me away.

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MNI: Here Comes the Delist

The NYSE has notified McClatchy that it has five weeks to come up with a plan to grow its market cap back above minimum levels required to be listed and traded on the exchange.

Here’s betting it will not.

You see, I think MNI execs really think there is white knight out there who will ride in and save the company and assume the staggering debt it has amassed. I really do. Nothing else explains the lack of pro-active responses to a business climate that has sucks value out of the company hour-by-hour. And if they do submit a plan, I guarantee it’ll be one of the most absurd things you’ll ever read.

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Clodfelter Wrong, Tax System Not “Broken”

Notice what is going on here. The drive to “reform” the North Carolina tax system is being turned into a drive to simply hike taxes. Part and parcel of that move can be seen in state Sen. Dan Clodfelter’s (D-Meck.) erroneous claim that the current state tax system is “broken.”

How can a system be broken that for most of the past decade threw off billions more each year in revenue? As ever, revenue was not the problem, spending by Clodfelter and his General Assembly cohorts was out-of-control. Spending outpaced both population growth and inflation in recent years.

Yes, general fund revenues are projected to contract about 12 percent this year, to around $18.5 billion. When the economy contracts, this must happen when your tax system targets wealth, income, and economic activity. Clodfelter and crew are just stamping their feet and wishing it weren’t so, but adults know better.

But here is the kicker. That contracted, “broken” revenue number is still over $2 billion more than the state general fund got waaayy back in…2005-06. Yet Raleigh is acting like it is the end of the world.

Given that mindset, no tax system can keep up. Hence the none-too-veiled call for tax hikes to keep the spending spree going — until it is the backs of taxpayers that finally snap.

Look at us now, senator.

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Former UNCC Star Has Stalker

Cornbread Maxwell says he has a stalker, a guy who tells him he could play for the Celtics. Maxwell, Boston’s radio analyst, tells the Boston Globe:

“I’ve got this stalker guy,” said Max. “He’s about 47 years old and he followed me home the other night. He says he’s been hearing voices and that the voices are telling him he needs to play for the Celtics. He keeps asking me for Wyc’s number and Danny’s number [managing partner Wyc Grousbeck and president Danny Ainge]. He asked me if I’d pay for his mother’s apartment.

“Then he showed up at my place and asked if I would shoot hoops with him. I keep telling him, ‘You can’t follow me home. I cannot help you.’ But he says the voices are telling him to play for the Celtics. Imagine that story: ‘Max finds guy on street to replace KG.’ “

The NBA, it’s stalk-tastic.

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