Panthers will be 'aggressive' in free agency

When the new league year opens, the Carolina Panthers aren’t going to sit back and watch the league zoom past them like they did a year ago.

Owner Jerry Richardson has pledged his team will be “very aggressive” in free agency as it attempts to rebuild on the fly with a new coaching staff led by Ron Rivera. The Panthers crumbled to 2-14 in 2010 as they slashed spending.

Free agency will start with some of their own players, most notably running back DeAngelo Williams, who will be the top player available at his position. Defensive end Charles Johnson and linebackers James Anderson and Thomas Davis are also considered key components.

“First we want to be very aggressive and (general manager) Marty Hurney and his team have a plan and when we get the green light we will be going wide open,” Richardson told Steve Reed of the Gaston Gazette. “We’re going to concentrate on our own (free agents) first.

"(But) we’re going to be aggressive. We are prepared to do what it takes to put the best team together as quickly as we can.”

The Panthers have to sign No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton in quick order and then there is the issue of what to do with wide receiver Steve Smith. Many believe the veteran wants to be traded to a contender, a move that could potentially aid the Panthers in their rebuilding process, especially if the team determines Smith doesn’t want to be around.

“I have no idea,” Richardson said. “I love Steve, but I will be honest with you, Steve has not been in the forefront of my mind.”

Now, Richardson has to sit back and do what we’ve all been doing all offseason. Hurry up and wait.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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