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Carolina assistant coaches continue to jump ship

1/22/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Something really weird is happening in Carolina. As previously reported, defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac has told the team he's leaving to pursue other options, even though the Panthers had offered him a new contract.

Now, secondary coach Tim Lewis is leaving to coach the defensive backs in Seattle. This one adds to the strangeness of everything else because Lewis would have seemed like a logical candidate to move into Trgovac's former spot.

It also comes on the heels of defensive line coach Sal Sunseri leaving to become linebackers coach at the University of Alabama. That one was particularly shocking because Sunseri has been a very close friend to head coach John Fox.

Also, linebackers coach Ken Flajole has left to become defensive coordinator at St. Louis. But that move is different and unrelated to all the others because it was a straight promotion.

So what's really going in Carolina, where All-Pro defensive end Julius Peppers has said he wants to play elsewhere? Well, it's definitely not an intentional housecleaning. Lewis and Trgovac definitely were offered new contracts and it's believed Sunseri was as well. These guys are leaving by their own choice.

There are rumblings the Panthers were slow in offering contract renewals and the assistants started shopping around. But the offers were eventually made to keep them and they could have stayed. They chose not to and that's not a good sign.

In fact, it looks like people are trying to get off a sinking ship. Keep an eye on this situation because right now the way things are playing out, the events of this offseason so far make it look like the Panthers went 4-12 and not 12-4.