The Carolina Panthers have fought through a salary-cap crunch to sign eight free agents this offseason, but every contract they’ve handed out this month has been a one-year deal. Head coach Ron Rivera says that’s a product of the close-to-stagnant salary cap, and he thinks it’s becoming a trend inside and outside of Carolina.
Ron Rivera joined McNeil and Finfer on WSCR in Chicago to discuss Brian Urlacher, whom he coached in Chicago, free agency, new corner D.J. Moore and the controversial new rule that prohibits ball carriers from using their helmets as weapons in the open field.
On if he believes Brian Urlacher has some football left in him:
“I think he’s got a lot of football left in him. The thing everybody forgot is he was coming off of that knee situation and I don’t know if he was ever really quite healthy. And I think now, having the opportunity to rehab, to get back working, he just might have some football left.”
On his team’s approach to free agency and the salary cap resulting in more one-year contracts:
“The biggest thing that a lot of people ended up doing is just kind of wading through the first two days of free agency and let all the high-priced players sign. And then you start to see the prices drop, and then what happened was people started signing to one-year deals. That’s kind of going to be the trend for a while, it looks like, based on the way the salary cap is. And the money structure that a lot of guys are expecting these big deals, and right now only the elite guys are getting them. So everybody else is just going to have to [wait] for a year or two and then try to earn their next big paycheck.”
On cornerback D.J. Moore, whom they signed away from the Bears in free agency:
“He’s a solid nickel defensive back. He plays that position about as good as anybody I’ve seen. Reminds me a lot of Ricky Manning in terms of his ability to read the quarterbacks, his ability to get in the seam passing lanes.”
On the controversial new rule penalizing players for using the crown of their helmets to initiate contact with defenders in the open field:
“It’s about player safety first and foremost, but secondly, what it really is is an extension and a clarification of spearing. For a running back to use his head as a weapon out in the middle of the field is different. But again, the other part of that rule, too, now is as a tackler, if that running back gets hit and spun around and he’s in a vulnerable position, you come in and you lower your head and you hit him with the top part of your head, you’re getting penalized as well. So it’s not just one-fold.”