Ailing Meadows retires from Panthers
August 9, 2004
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- The Carolina Panthers' unsettled offensive line took another hit today when projected starting right tackle Adam Meadows abruptly announced his retirement.
After being cut in February by the Indianapolis Colts in a salary cap move, Meadows signed a five-year, $15 million contract with the Panthers as an unrestricted free agent March 9. But the 30-year-old had been kept out of most of training camp by persistent shoulder problems. The team encouraged Meadows to undergo treatment for arthritis in the shoulder, but Meadows decided to call it quits.
"There was a lot of integrity for what he did," Panthers head coach John Fox said. "Rather than drift along kind of in limbo, he decided to retire, and that is something I respect him for totally."
Meadows has agreed to pay back his entire $2.5 million signing bonus, general manager Marty Hurney said.
The team will have to carry a $500,000 hit on this year's salary cap, but will get a rebate under next year's cap.
Journeyman backup Matt Willig has been with seven teams during his 13-year NFL career, but has only started 34 games. Willig has been working with the first team in training camp.
Willig is expected to receive some competition for the starting spot from Melvin Tuten, another career backup. Tuten, in his fifth season with the Panthers, missed all of last season with a torn ACL in his knee and has started just 17 games.
Fox said the team is not considering moving third-round draft pick Travelle Wharton to right tackle. Wharton has been working with the second team at left tackle behind Jordan Gross.
Fox did not rule out looking outside the team for help, although the free agent market doesn't look promising.
The Panthers have a lot of questions across the offensive line.
After they signed Meadows, the team released reliable veteran Todd Steussie, a three-year starter at left tackle.
They entered training camp looking to fill voids left by the departure of guards Jeno James, who signed with Miami as a free agent, and Kevin Donnalley, who retired.
Bruce Nelson, a second-round pick in 2003, was expected to fill one of those spots, but he will miss at least six games after undergoing a second hip operation last week.
The 6-foot-8, 318-pound Willig spent last season with the Panthers but played exclusively on special teams.
"The old saying, 'Be careful what you wish for,' ... well, it's here," Willig said. "I'm ready. I was ready last year and I have been ready for 13 years. The reason I'm still playing is because I can still do this without being a head case."
Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme said Meadows' retirement could help the team in the long run.
"It's good it happened the second week of camp and not the first week of the season," Delhomme said. "We are getting a lot of guys some work. But I truly believe we will be fine. We will be OK."
I think that is sad.Last year I remember him getting injured last year with us.