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What Moore's tender means for Panthers

Last night’s news that the Carolina Panthers have placed the highest possible restricted free-agent tender on Matt Moore said a lot.

It said the Panthers think very highly of Moore, who was 4-1 as a starter late last season after taking over for an injured Jake Delhomme. But does the tender, which would require the Panthers to receive a first- and third-round draft pick if Moore signs elsewhere, definitively say Moore is Carolina’s starting quarterback?

No, not quite. The tender means the Panthers will pay Moore a little more than $3 million this season. Reality is, that’s top-end pay for a backup quarterback and it’s the smartest move Carolina could have made in this situation. There were some rumblings that the Panthers and Moore were talking about a long-term contract.

But, given the current uncertainty in the labor situation, it really made no sense to give an unproven quarterback a long-term deal. This way, the Panthers should be able to keep Moore at a relatively reasonable salary for one season and truly see what they’ve got before doing anything for the long term.

The Panthers have been very quiet about their plans at quarterback, but the one word that keeps oozing out of Bank of America Stadium is “competition." A training-camp competition between Moore and Jake Delhomme?

Well, that’s the implication -- at least for the moment -- and it certainly could play out that way. But I’m thinking there’s more to come between now and August. As much as I respect Delhomme (as much as any player I’ve ever covered), I’m not so sure the Panthers can hand the starting job back to him. He had a disastrous season last year and, although he’s well liked by teammates, I’m not sure that starting Delhomme sends a real positive message for the rest of the team. And I’m not so sure coach John Fox can afford to give Delhomme another chance.

In fact, and this is just me talking out loud, I’m not sure Delhomme even will be with the Panthers by the time the season gets here. I don’t think the Panthers are done making moves at quarterback.

The Moore move is positive and it probably places him as the favorite to win the starting job at the moment. But Fox needs to win big this year. Moore could be his salvation, but there are no guarantees with a quarterback that doesn’t have a lot of experience. There certainly are no guarantees with Delhomme.

There aren’t any guarantees with any of the quarterbacks that are going to be available in free agency or the draft. But Fox and general manager Marty Hurney need to add at least one more viable option to the quarterback mix.