NFL News of July 18, 2004

The Green Bay Packers won five NFL championships in a span of seven years in the 1960s. Ten starters from that first championship team in 1961 were still starting when the Packers won that fifth title in 1967.

…Continuity has historically been a key ingredient in a championship team. But not any more. The salary cap has changed all that. You can no longer keep what you build.

… [the Carolina] Panthers enjoyed the greatest season in franchise history in 2003, winning their first NFC championship and pushing the Patriots to the final seconds of the Super Bowl in a quest for an NFL title.

Five months later, eight starters are gone from that Carolina team. Guard Kevin Donnalley retired, offensive tackle Todd Steussie and cornerback Terry Cousin became salary-cap casualties, and guard Jeno James, tight end Jermaine Wiggins, linebacker Greg Favors, cornerback Reggie Howard and safety Deon Grant left in free agency.

But the Panthers didn’t take the hardest hits in the NFL this off-season. Pity the San Francisco 49ers.

They fielded a Top 10 offense in 2003 but lost their starting quarterback (Jeff Garcia), halfback (Garrison Hearst), both wide receivers (Terrell Owens and Tai Streets) and tight end (Jed Weaver) this off-season.

—Rick Gosselin, The Dallas Morning News “For team builders, salary cap is continuing challenge”

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