- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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With the Panthers letting Julius Peppers walk into free agency, it’s time to take a look at where he stands in franchise history.
Is he the best player in franchise history? Let’s set some ground rules before starting this debate. Guys like Reggie White and Sam Mills don’t count. They played with the Panthers at the very end of their careers and we’re only taking into consideration what guys did while they were with Carolina.
With that in mind, here’s my list of the top five players in Carolina’s history:
1. Peppers. Yes, he wasn’t always consistent. But he took over games at times and was phenomenal -- when he wanted to be.
2. Steve Smith. There’s a very good chance the little man could move past Peppers before all is said and done. Another good year or two should do it.
3. Wesley Walls. In the early years of this franchise, no one was consistently better than the tight end.
4. John Kasay. Yeah, he’s a kicker, but he’s been as consistent as anyone in the league. He’s the last original Panther and he someday will have a statue outside of Bank of America Stadium.
5. Dan Morgan. Yep, that’s not a misprint. I know Morgan’s legacy is that of a guy who could never stay on the field because of injuries. I’m not disputing that. But I’m asking you to remember how good Morgan was when he was on the field. He was spectacular. His place on the list won’t last long. Give Jon Beason another year or so and he’ll pass Morgan. Heck, give Beason a few more years and he could be at the top of this list. Give Jordan Gross, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart another year or two and they also will be somewhere on this list.
Let’s hear your list of top five Panthers in history. Hit the comments section below or send a note to the mailbag.