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Grading The Deal: Hackett's A Panther
Andrew Perna. 18th March, 2008 - 2:24 pm

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The Panthers signed free-agent wide receiver D.J. Hackett to a two-year deal worth $3.5 million on Monday afternoon. Carolina is hoping that the presence of Hackett will take some of the heat off number-one option Steve Smith.

Hackett spent his first four NFL seasons in Seattle as a member of the Seahawks. He played in just six games last year, tallying 384 yards and three touchdowns on 32 receptions.

There may be some concerns about his ability to remain healthy, but there is no denying his potential as a legitimate threat. Over a four-game stretch last season, he notched 336 receiving yards and three trips to the end zone while helping the Seahawks record a trio of victories.

Smith, a former Pro Bowler, caught 87 passes in Carolina last season for 1,002 yards and seven touchdowns despite receiving a majority of the defense?s attention. The Panthers are hoping that Hackett can do a better job than Drew Carter, who grabbed just 38 receptions for 517 yards and four touchdowns in 2007 as the team?s second-best target.

Carter signed a deal with the Raiders last week.

The Panthers averaged a meager 170.9 passing yards last season, ahead of only the Bills, Raiders, and 49ers. The signing of Hackett, in addition to Muhsin Muhammad, should help Carolina slide up at least a few slots on that list in 2008.

The earlier acquisition of Muhammad didn?t bother Hackett because the team reportedly assured D.J. the role of number-two receiver. His presence should allow the Panthers to be more effective on the ground as well, something DeAngelo Williams will look to accomplish with DeShaun Foster in San Francisco.

Hackett will complement Smith well in Carolina. The latter is several inches below six feet and weighs about a buck-eighty, with blazing speed once he gets his hands on the ball. Hackett is a lanky 6?2? and will look to play the role of a smaller Plaxico Burress for the Panthers, who will cross their fingers that Jake Delhomme hasn?t lost his gusto.

It?s just too bad Hackett couldn?t hold a candle to New York?s top-flight receiver.

However, Carolina didn?t just get themselves a respectable target to line up on the other side of Smith, but they did so on the cheap, as well. The Panthers will pay D.J. significantly less than two million a season.

Grade for the Panthers: B

The Seahawks would have liked to have kept Hackett, but they have a wealth of options at receiver. Deion Branch, Bobby Engram, and Nate Burleson are all still on the roster, and Seattle is hoping that at least two of those players can remain healthy for a majority of 2008.

Burleson and Engram played in all sixteen games last season as the team?s top two stat compilers; however, Branch, their supposed number-one receiver, missed five games in 2007. Losing Hackett could hurt the Seahawks if the injury bug makes its way into the locker room once again.

Grade for the Seahawks: B

In addition, Seattle has more important holes to fill with their money.

Andrew Perna is a Senior Writer for RealGM.com. Please feel free to contact him via e-mail (Andrew.Perna@RealGM.com) with comments or questions.