From the Panthers’ first-place streak to Frank Reich’s thing with the long QBs: we learned 7 things

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — While standing behind the stage at Bank of America Stadium, Panthers general manager Scott Ferrer kicked off his press conference Monday by telling reporters, “A lot has happened since the combine.”

This is to put it mildly.

In the 12 days since Fetterer and head coach Frank Reich addressed the media in Indianapolis, the Panthers have traded the first pick, sent their offensive MVP to Chicago as part of the deal, agreed to a restructured contract with defense chief Chuck Thompson and signed six players including the athleteTop 150 free agents, including returning quarterback Bradley Bozeman.

And maybe we forgot something.

The Panthers have become one of the NFL’s most talked-about teams of the season, and both Fitterer and Reich had a lot to talk about on Monday. A look at what we learned during their briefings.


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We know who will take first place

Sorry, this is a joke. As expected, Fetterer and Reich did not walk hand in hand – although they were both asked this question. Almost real? Reich said with a smile when someone asked how many of the top four players were comfortable with the top pick.

Vetterer said the team “convicted” several quarterbacks, though the athlete I mentioned that the list is closer to two. Both indicated that this will be a process starting this week with the pro days for CJ Stroud, Bryce Young and Will Levis. (Anthony Richardson stayed on March 30). Vetterer said he’ll be all in, and Reich said he expects to bring all four QBs to Charlotte for the Top 30 visits before the draft.

“Obviously we have our ideas. You wouldn’t make a move like that without it being pretty proven,” said Vetterer. “But now we’re going through the process of talking to the players and really getting to know them.”

“When you have the first pick, we don’t have to play games. It’s not like we’re trying to con anyone. What we try to do is try to take as much time as possible to evaluate,” Reich said. Do we have feelings? Do we have some kind of visa written on paper and in our minds? Yes, we all do. There is a lot of conviction in some of these great players.

“The old adage is, don’t make a decision before you have to. We’ll take every second, every hour, every day to make that decision. And we still have plenty of time.”

Reich claims he has no type

Peter King of NBC Sports had an impressive stat in his column last week, noting that in Reich’s 17 years as quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator, or head coach, All but six games have been started by quarterbacks 6-4 and taller. The exceptions were 6-3 Ryan Lindley and 6-2 Sam Ellinger, whom Reich had to start his final two games with the Colts last season.

This seems like a trend, a trend that is taking on special significance because Young, the Alabama QB who won the Heisman in 2021, measured a shade more than a 5-10 when combined. But the 6-4 Reich, who played in the NFL during the era of the biggest QBs, said he’s opening his mind. He stated that he had a high draft score over a diminutive Russell Wilson in 2012, when Seattle — with Vitter as a college scout — took Wilson in the third round.

He said, “But don’t read anything in it.” “I’m just saying, all these people put this label on me that I only work with big players, only big players.”

Reich said in Indy that Young’s height was a “concern”, but noted Drew Brees and Wilson as quarterbacks who found success despite their short stature. Reich said Monday that height is just one of the attributes he uses to rate quarterbacks, but declined to say how much weight he assigns to him.

This would be like giving ownership to Kentucky Fried Chicken. I don’t want to put my assessment of midfielders at that level,” Reich said, laughing at the comparison. “But that’s the unique thing about every club. We all weigh it a little differently.”

Bryce Young measured 5-10 in NFL Scouting. How important is that for the cheetahs? (Stephen Lu / USA Today)

The Panthers believe Thelin can produce into his mid-30s

The Panthers on Sunday agreed terms to a three-year, $25 million deal with veteran guard Adam Thielen, who turns 33 in August. The contract includes $14 million in secured funds over the first two years. Two veteran officials said the Panthers may have overpaid.

“He will be a great teacher and producer. That’s a lot,” said an NFC talent evaluator, who was granted anonymity to speak freely on Thielen.

The Panthers were in a place where they needed a veteran wide receiver after DJ Moore was traded to the Bears, and they were picking from a weak class of free receivers. They liked Thielen’s leadership and believed he could still be productive (he’s been out of the 70 season).

“It’s a lot about technique, class and trajectory, and that doesn’t bother me too much. If he loses a step, it’s not a big factor for a player with his style of play,” said Vetterer. A guy who’s as savvy as that, and knows how to cut loose, wasn’t much of a factor. We also want his influence in the locker room.”

Thielen, who has also drawn attention from the Broncos, Cowboys, and other teams, Pat told McAfee he wasn’t chasing dollars. “A lot of people will say I went there for the money and all that. Money wasn’t that big of a deal,” Thielen said. “Of course, you want to get paid what you feel you deserve. But I wanted to go to a place that was good for my family, for myself, and in the end I felt like a place that had a serious chance of winning a Super Bowl.”


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Still need speed

The Panthers are still looking for the indicated “hearth”. They had fast receiver DJ Chark visit, and Fitterer noted that the two sides are still talking. But GM said the Panthers could also add to the situation during the draft or in August roster cuts.

Deep throwing isn’t the only way to get choppy play in his passing offense, Reich said.

“You can do it quickly on the field. You can do it throwing the ball up the field. But on our offense, we had a lot of catch and run,” he said. “So we think we know how to plan things out sometimes to get the guys running. So being good in space, being good after contact are two great ways to get a first down.”

Later, Reich admitted that the Panthers were looking for a fast man, but said he might be someone on the roster moving up. Besides the heading receiver, Vitterer said the Panthers could use another inside player besides Chuck Thompson, who is a senior defensive lineman and pass tackler.

“No team is ever perfect,” he said, “even the teams that win the Super Bowl, like Kansas City.” “Everyone has needs.”


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Panthers add former Eagles RB Miles Sanders as GM Scott Vetter starts cooking

What about Lamar?

Shortly after the Ravens placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Lamar Jackson, the athlete reported that the Panthers would not be in the bid for the league’s Most Valuable Player of the Year for 2019. On Monday, Vitter made it clear that the decision comes down to philosophy — and money.

“Like anything, you always have a conversation,” said Vetterer. “We’ve been looking — it’s a great option. It’s a really expensive option. But we’ve been focused on more draft picks at this point.”

Jackson is reportedly looking for a five-year, $250 million guaranteed deal, which would surpass Deshaun Watson’s five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million contract. The Panthers were a finalist for Watson last year, but owner David Tepper refused to guarantee the final years of the deal.

What we learned, Lightning Tour

• Signing free agent safety Von Bell gives defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero the flexibility to play Jeremy Chen in a variety of positions. among them? Big Nickel Center, where Chen previously played. The Panthers also need a regular nickel after they refused bids for restricted free agent Miles Hartsfield, who signed with San Francisco. Fitterer said Jaycee Horn can slide inside to cover hole receivers, with CJ Henderson manning Horn’s outside spot.

• Yes, the Panthers like Andy Dalton’s ability to mentor a rookie QB – especially since Dalton played as a junior (going to the Pro Bowl), while Reich coach and QB Josh McCown did not. But Reich said Dalton could still play if needed. Such was the case last year in New Orleans, where Dalton went 6-8 after first replacing an injured James Winston, then keeping the position when Winston was healthy.

“Make no mistake about it, Andy Dalton was brought here to win football games,” said Reich. “Because if you’re going to win a championship, you need a backup quarterback who’s going to impact that.”

(CJ Stroud top photo: Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)


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