Hedge Fund Manager David Tepper the Front Runner to Buy the Panthers

Signs are pointing to hedge fund manager David Tepper as the winning bidder to buy the Panthers, sources told the Charlotte Observer on Friday.

CBS and ESPN separately reported on Friday that Tepper is the leading candidate, and that the announcement could come as early as next week. A source also told the Observer that an announcement could be made next week.

Tepper, 60, is the richest of the known bidders who sought to buy the Panthers, with a net worth of $11 billion, according to Forbes. He’s also the only one already vetted by the NFL, as a part-owner of his hometown team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

One of the sources told the Observer that Tepper’s bid was helped because he had the least complex finances and didn’t have a need for minority partners. The source also cautioned that a deal did not appear to be finalized.

Tepper could not be reached for comment Friday.

He visited Charlotte once in early April, and was in town again Wednesday meeting with team officials, E

SPN reported.

Panthers DB Coach Curtis Fuller Resigns – Rivera Says “It’s a Complicated Situation”

Panthers defensive backs coach Curtis Fuller resigned Wednesday, general manager Marty Hurney confirmed to Jourdan Rodrigue and Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer.

Hurney declined to comment on the nature of the situation, including the reason for resignation.

Responding to a question at Quail Hollow Club, head coach Ron Rivera said “it’s a complicated situation.”

Multiple requests for comment from team spokesman Steven Drummond were not answered.

Fuller, 39, had been an assistant coach with the Panthers since 2013. He served as the assistant defensive backs/nickels coach in 2016, assistant special teams/nickels coach in 2015, defensive assistant/defensive backs coach in 2014 and coaching assistant in 2013.

Could Cameron Artis-Payne Find His Way in the Panthers Starting Backfield in 2018?

Cameron Artis-Payne will reportedly get a “real shot” to replace Jonathan Stewart in the Panthers’ run game according to Max Henson of Panthers.com.

One of the most confounding non-moves of the draft was the Panthers failure to pick up a running back after releasing their long-time starter Stewart. That leaves the 27-year-old Artis-Payne as basically the only option to be the “big back” complement to 2017 No.8-overall pick Christian McCaffrey.

A fifth-round draft pick out of Auburn in 2015, the Panthers seem to tout Artis-Payne’s potential every season and pundits predict a bigger role for him but that potential never materializes. He has 99 career carries in three seasons, has very little role in the passing games, and held his own but did not flash star potential in three spot starts in 2016.

The Panthers will likely add a veteran to the mix before training camp but, for now, they seem to be betting on a McCaffrey/Artis-Payne backfield for 2018.

Panthers Earn an ‘A-‘ for Their Draft According to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.

The draft grades from ‘Draft Guru’ Mel Kiper Jr. are out, and one team that got a very good grade is that of the Panthers, who according to Kiper got an ‘A-‘ for their collection of players over the two days.

Here’s what he had to say:

Like their NFC South rivals in Atlanta, the Panthers went with a wide receiver in Round 1, taking Maryland’s D.J. Moore at No. 24. I’m a big fan of Moore, who is more than a workout warrior, though he put up freakish numbers at the combine with a 4.42 40 time and 39.5-inch vertical. He was productive for the Terps, and he’s great after the catch. He runs through arm tackles, and he’s built like a tailback. The Panthers needed a guy like that for Cam Newton, and it wasn’t going to be veteran Torrey Smith (another Terp), who was brought in last month. Moore could be Newton’s favorite target in a hurry.

After parting ways with Daryl Worley, the Panthers needed cornerbacks to compete for the spot opposite James Bradberry. They added two on Day 2 with Donte Jackson (pick 55), one of the fastest players in this class (4.32 40), and Rashaan Gaulden (85), whom I had rated as more of a sixth-round talent. (Remember that veteran safety Kurt Coleman is no longer with the team.) Jackson is only 5-10 and 178 pounds, but he’s an elite athlete. Ian Thomas could develop into the heir apparent to Greg Olsen, and to get my fourth-ranked tight end at 104 is great value. Marquis Haynes (136) is another good player on Day 3.

If there’s an issue with this class, it’s not getting a pass-rusher. Are they really going to rely on 38-year-old Julius Peppers to play almost 500 snaps again? Mario Addison is also going to be 31 by Week 1, and you face Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Jameis Winston six times a year in that division. I liked the depth of this class, though, and won’t ding it too much. There is value from top to bottom.

Round/Pick Name Pos College
1/24 D.J. Moore WR MARYLAND
2/55 Donte Jackson CB LSU
3/85 Rashaan Gaulden CB TENNESSEE
4/101 Ian Thomas TE INDIANA
4/136 Marquis Haynes OLB OLE MISS
5/161 Jermaine Carter Jr. CB MARYLAND
7/234 Andre Smith ILB NORTH CAROLINA
7/242 Kendrick Norton DT MIAMI

Panthers Ink Veteran TE Greg Olsen to Two-Year Extension

The Panthers have signed veteran tight end Greg Olsen to a two-year, $17.1 million extension through 2020 according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

The deal reportedly can be worth $20.1 million with incentives. and could potential make him the league’s highest-paid tight end. Olsen was scheduled to be a free agent after this year and was even linked with some TV jobs, but now he is under contract through his age-35 season.

2017 was a down year for Olsen as he was limited to seven games due to a foot injury and never looked healthy upon his return. He claims to be fully recovered this offseason, however, and will remain one of Cam Newton’s favorite passing options in 2018 and beyond.

Panthers Have Chatted About Bringing Back Backup QB Derek Anderson

Panthers general manager Marty Hurney says the team has talked with veteran backup quarterback Derek Anderson about re-signing with the team according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer.

The 34-year-old Anderson is one of the most dependable backups in the league and would undoubtedly be in demand if he did not stay in Carolina. He has served as the security blanket behind starter Cam Newton. Even if the team drafts a developmental prospect this weekend, they would be wise to keep Anderson and it would not be surprising if the team announced a contract extension after the draft.

Panthers Announce 2018 Preseason Schedule

The Panthers and the the rest of the NFL today announced their 2018 preseason slate, with the four games to be played in the month of August.

Game One – Aug. 9-13 at Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium
Game Two – Aug. 16-20 vs vs. MIAMI DOLPHINS at Bank of America Stadium
Game Three – Aug. 23-26 vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS at Bank of America Stadium
Game Four – Aug. 30 at Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field

The Panthers will face AFC opponents in each of their four preseason games, opening the schedule on the road against the Buffalo Bills in early August.

Carolina will close the preseason with a road game August 30 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the 16th consecutive season that Carolina and Pittsburgh have wrapped up the preseason against each other. In between the road trips, the Panthers will host the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots, meaning Carolina will face every AFC East team except the New York Jets. The Panthers last faced an NFC team in the preseason in 2013.

The slate is exactly the same as the 2015 preseason schedule, a season that ended with a trip to the Super Bowl. Dates and times for the preseason schedule will be announced in the coming days.

Preparing For Life After Cam Newton

It’s time to start thinking about what comes after Cam Newton. Let’s be clear, no one is suggesting that the Panthers should move on from Newton in the short term. That would be crazy.

For all the baggage that comes with him, Newton is one of the best in the NFL, and the leader on the field. In many respects, he had another great season in 2017, throwing for 3,302 yards and 22 touchdowns, and he was the main factor in getting them into the Wild Card game.

There is some room for improvement though. If the Panthers are going to move up in the rankings among NFL bettors who bet on Stakers, Newton needs to work on his accuracy, which fell to 52.9 percent last season. Norv Turner should be able to help with that.

However, Cam won’t be around forever. Sure, he’s only 28, but he has taken a lot of big hits in his career. Prior to the last campaign, since joining the NFL in 2011 he has been hit or sacked 922 times. The next guy on the list, Russell Wilson, has taken 615 hits. Yes, that’s how Cam plays, but there are only so many big hits that one athlete can take.

How should the Panthers prepare for a post-Newton world? Derek Anderson has been Newton’s backup since 2011, but he turns 35 in June. Garrett Gilbert is still there, but the suspicion is that the Panthers don’t see him as the answer in the long term, and that leaves them with a tricky decision – bring in a quarterback through free agency, trading, or the draft.

The Panthers haven’t drafted anyone in that position since 2011, making them the only franchise in the NFL not to have taken a quarterback at the draft in the last six years. Even New England and Green Bay have picked up two apiece since 2012.

This year’s draft is considered to be a strong one for quarterbacks. Three could make the top-ten picks and up to six could be taken in the first two rounds. The Panthers have the 24th pick, and it is likely that they will want to address their other more pressing weaknesses, bringing in a wide receiver, running back, or even a defensive end. However, with two third-round and three seventh-round picks, they may well look for a quarterback with huge potential. There are a number of candidates who could fit the bill, including Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma State, Washington State’s Luke Falk, and Chase Litton from Marshall.

The other option would be to look for another young quarterback as a free agent or a trade for Anderson. Finding a player with Newtonesque potential who has been overlooked would be a tall order though, and trading Anderson would leave the team short of experienced backup. Given their long run of not taking quarterbacks at the draft, it seems more likely that the Panthers will opt for drafting Newton’s replacement this year, laying the foundations for a successful future.

Write For Us