Mon, 08 Mar 2021

New Panthers general manager wants to be "in on every deal"

Carolina Panthers
23 Jan 2021, 20:44 GMT+10

Darin Gantt

CHARLOTTE - Scott Fitterer is not able to talk about any moves his new team may or may not make.

But there will be moves.

Fitterer promised at his first press conference as the Panthers' new general manager that they'd be active in exploring all the ways they can improve the current roster.

"I'm not going to get into hypotheticals," Fitterer said Friday. "What I will tell you is we will be in on every deal. We're going to find out where things are going, what the landscape is in the NFL.

"But before we do anything outside, I need to figure out who's here. I need to figure out this roster. I need to figure out who's on our offensive line, who's on our defensive line. I know them from a 30,000-foot view, but I need to know them from a coaching standpoint, and a personal standpoint, and meet these guys and see what they're made of.

"There's a lot of things we're going to be involved with going forward. We're going to be very aggressive in our acquisition process, but it starts with getting to know our team, and just being here for a few days, I'm just getting started in that process."

Head coach Matt Rhule mentioned that the Panthers were among the top teams in the league in transactions last year, and that he expected to continue to churn the bottom of the roster.

That's how the Seahawks organization has done business, so it makes sense that Fitterer will be wired to operate the same way.

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GLAD TO HAVE YOU BACK

The Panthers have lost three assistants so far this offseason, but it appears they're going to hang onto offensive coordinator Joe Brady.

He interviewed for head coaching vacancies with the Eagles, Falcons, Texans, Chargers, and Jets. All but the Texans' job have been filled.

"You never know in this business, but I know Joe's working full speed ahead getting ready for next season, getting ready for the Senior Bowl, making sure all the scripts are done," Rhule said Friday. "One great thing about Joe is, every year he coaches, he's so smart and such a good person, he'll get better and better and better at what he does.

"I'm excited for the chance to have him back next year. No one can ever understand how hard that was for Joe, to install a new system over Zoom, with new coaches and new players. I really look forward to this year, seeing what Joe's starting to build to bear fruit. If it works out, I'm really excited about that."

NEW EXPERIENCE

Fitterer doesn't have much experience with a draft pick as high as he'll be using this year (eighth overall).

But from a philosophical standpoint, he's interested in adding more draft picks rather than subtracting them, the way they did in Seattle.

The Seahawks haven't picked higher than 15th since 2012, when they took pass-rusher Bruce Irvin.

"In Seattle, we've historically picked in the mid-20s to late-20s for the last 10 years," Fitterer said. "When you look at the draft and build the board, there's a certain level of player that stops about 16 or 17 or 18. So, once we're picking at 25, and we know we're not going to get those players we consider are going to come in and be impact players, we don't see a big difference between 25 and 40 at that point. So we can move back, acquire picks, and still get the same caliber of player that fits our team.

"This year, it's going to be a little bit different. Picking eighth this year, we're in that mix of players. That gives us the opportunity. We can move up, we can move back, it gives us a lot of flexibility in the draft. It'll be a new adventure, and one I'm looking forward to. But if you're not in that top part of the draft, we're going to try to acquire picks."

The Panthers saw the benefit of having extra draft capital last year, which Fitterer had a ringside seat for.

They used the fifth-round pick they acquired from Washington in the Kyle Allen trade as part of the trade up to get linebacker Jeremy Chinn.

The Panthers traded their third-rounder and that fifth (69th and 148th overall) to move up to 64.

That pick was owned by the Seahawks, who parlayed those two picks into guard Damien Lewis and defensive end Alton Robinson.

ALL IS FORGIVEN

Rhule said he was "fired up" to get to the Senior Bowl next week for many reasons, but he'll have a chance to coach a guy who passed on a previous chance.

Among the quarterbacks on the American team roster the Panthers will coach is Alabama quarterback Mac Jones.

Rhule said Friday he tried to convince Jones to go to Baylor years ago, but it didn't work.

"I actually called Mac when he committed to Alabama," Rhule said "They had two quarterbacks commit, and I tried to convince him to come to Baylor. And he said, 'Thanks, but no thanks.'"

Presumably, he's more eager to work with Rhule this time.

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