Lucas still with the Panthers for the time being

The HeraldFebruary 26, 2009 

CHARLOTTE -- At the moment, cornerback Ken Lucas is still a Carolina Panther.

And in the absence of any word from the team, that seems more temporary than ever.

There was no word from the Panthers on Thursday on Lucas' future in Charlotte, after an earlier report from NFL.com that Lucas had vetoed a trade to Detroit. The Panthers spent much of the day re-doing contracts in order to get under the league's spending limit, and part of that effort was believed to be moving the 30-year-old cornerback.

But according to the report, Lucas balked at joining the Lions, who went 0-16 last year.

He's still under contract at $5.6 million this year and $6.0 million in 2010. It's unclear if he was released and entered the free agent market if he'd be able to match that, given the flooded market at his position.

The Panthers could clear $2.375 million worth of salary cap room by releasing Lucas, which would leave them thin at the position. They're comfortable with Richard Marshall in the starting lineup opposite Chris Gamble, but only have C.J. Wilson and special teamer Dante Wesley in reserve.

Of course, they're under the league's spending limit now with Lucas on the books, so there's no impetus to make a hasty move.

• LOOKING AROUND: With all the other activity, the Panthers weren't able to sign any of their other free agents before the midnight deadline.

They negotiated with the agent for offensive lineman Geoff Hangartner, though they weren't able to get a deal done Thursday. His agent, Eric Metz, said simply that Hangartner was going to "explore free agency."

The Panthers also had some degree of discussions with the agent for backup left tackle Frank Omiyale.

The Panthers other unrestricted free agents are long snapper Jason Kyle, kick returner Mark Jones, linebackers Donte Curry and Adam Seward and defensive tackle Darwin Walker.

Of the group, they're still interested in Kyle, Jones and Curry.

• TENDERS IN: The Panthers made tender offers to three of their restricted free agents and two of their exclusive rights free agents.

Tight end Jeff King was offered a one-year, $1.545 million tender, which would net them a second-round pick if another team signed him away. Linebacker James Anderson and safety Nate Salley were each tendered at the lowest RFA level of $1.01 million, which would bring back third- and fourth-round picks, respectively if they were signed away.

The Panthers didn't tender a contract to defensive tackle Gary Gibson, though they might still try to re-sign him at a reduced rate (closer to the $535,000 minimum).

They also tendered Wilson and defensive tackle Nick Hayden one-year deals worth $385,000.

The Panthers did not tender their other two EFAs, wide receiver Jason Carter and defensive tackle J'Vonne Parker.

Carter is expected back, however. The Panthers hope to sign him soon to what's known as a "split contract," which pays him at a reduced rate from the minimum if he's injured. Carter blew out his knee last August after a promising preseason, so the move provides a little insurance and potential savings.

• EXTRA POINTS: The Panthers created salary cap room throughout the week by restructuring several veteran deals. They extended both nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu and defensive tackle Damione Lewis through 2014, though both were short-term fixes to clear around $3.5 million in cap savings. They also carved another $1 million off the cap through linebacker Landon Johnson's pay cut. ...

Former Panthers cornerback Ricardo Colclough pleaded guilty Thursday to driving while impaired, charges stemming from the arrest last August which led to his release. Colclough appeared at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse, and was sentenced to a 30-day suspended sentence, ordered not to drive in North Carolina for a year and was fined $150 plus court costs.

Colclough was stopped the night before final cuts were due last season and was released about 14 hours later. He would have made the team, as he had a decent training camp. He signed with Kansas City last November, and remains under contract with the Chiefs through 2009.

daringantt@carolina.rr.com

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