Carolina Panthers

Lack of signings wasn't for lack of trying

CHARLOTTE -- Though the Carolina Panthers were low-key in the opening days of free agency, it apparently wasn't for a lack of trying.

Seeming intent on improving their pass rush, the Panthers were extremely aggressive in pursuing two of the top sack men in this year's market. According to the agents for both players, the Panthers were heavily involved in the courting of Tennessee's Travis LaBoy and Oakland's Chris Clemons, before they signed with Arizona and Philadelphia, respectively.

LaBoy signed a five-year, $22 million deal with the Cardinals, with $7.5 million guaranteed. And while that's well past the tax brackets of the other free agents the Panthers have signed, it wasn't the money that kept him from coming here.

"They proposed a very respectable salary," said C.J. LaBoy. "It was more about the role than the money with them."

He wouldn't say a number, though it was clear the money wasn't that far off the five-year, $22 million pact (with $7.5 million guaranteed) Arizona gave LaBoy to replace Calvin Pace. But the agent (who's also his brother) said the Panthers were offering the Tennessee free agent a job as a third end, looking at a 40- to 50-percent snaps role as a pass-rush specialist.

That's what the 26-year-old LaBoy did for the Titans, playing behind Antwan Odom last year and still registering 6.0 sacks in 13 games.

The Panthers were also squarely in the mix for Clemons, a linebacker hybrid who had 8.0 sacks for the Raiders last year.

His agent, Don Henderson, said the Panthers showed as much interest as can be legally allowed when the free agency period opened Feb. 29.

"They called shortly after midnight," Henderson said. "They were very professional about it, their interest was obvious."

Clemons, also 26, eventually signed a five-year, $18.5 million deal with the Eagles.

While not outrageous, either number would have been the biggest for the Panthers this offseason. Their splash signing was versatile Cincinnati linebacker Landon Johnson, who inked a three-year, $10 million deal, with a $3 million signing bonus.

The only defensive lineman they've signed so far was Oakland's Tyler Brayton, who has 6.0 sacks in five NFL seasons.

The Panthers' problem now is that there's not much left on the market. Of the remaining free agent defensive ends, the sack leader from 2007 was New Orleans backup Renaldo Wynn, who had 3.5. Mike Rucker, who the Panthers have shown not much interest in retaining, had 3.0.

Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said Monday night that he didn't want to comment on the specifics of either case.

"It's obvious there are certain things we're trying to get done," Hurney said. "But we've talked to a bunch of people."

The Panthers clearly want to upgrade their defensive line. They've had at least three defensive tackles in for visits and physicals -- Rod Coleman, Darwin Walker and Ian Scott -- though no deals have been struck with them, either.

• EXTRA POINTS: Monday brought a piece of news even more amazing than Denver's love affair with Panthers castoffs Marquand Manuel and Keary Colbert.

According to the Newark Star-Ledger, quarterback David Carr is scheduled to visit the New York Giants today and Wednesday. His pedigree's certainly better than either Anthony Wright or Jared Lorenzen, though last year created doubt in even his biggest believers. The good news for Carr is that the Giants' quarterback coach is Chris Palmer, who had Carr in Houston when his reputation wasn't what it is now.