It was an emotional few minutes for Panthers fans as the roller coaster that is the 2020 offseason continued Tuesday afternoon.
The Panthers continue to bring familiar faces in for head coach Matt Rhule – and this time it’s not just a familiar face, it’s a familiar name to those clamoring for the Panthers to sign a splashy offensive weapon as multiple reports confirmed that the Panthers had signed former Jets – and more importantly, former Temple – wide receiver Robby Anderson to a two-year deal worth $20m. The information broke just minutes after the Panthers officially announced the team had released former franchise quarterback Cam Newton.
Anderson has compiled 3,059 yards on 207 receptions and 20 touchdowns in four seasons, with his career-high coming in 2017 when he had 941 receiving and seven scores with Josh McCown at QB – but at Temple University, the Teaneck, NJ native formed a strong bond with the Panthers’ new head coach.
“He’s a great coach. I texted him not too long ago and I thanked him,” Anderson told reporters after the Jets’ season ended. “He fought and believed in me. He put his name on the line to make me get that second chance and get right.”
“There were a lot of things that he did and put me through when I was in college that I would get mad about. But now I really understand why he was doing those things. He didn’t want me to just rely on the fact that I was talented. He taught me work ethic.”
Anderson, who had 52 receptions for 779 yards along with five scores last season, seems as if his big-play ability will fit in perfectly with new offensive coordinator Joe Brady’s expected explosive offense. The Panthers have multiple playmakers, including DJ Moore, Christian McCaffrey, Curtis Samuel and now Anderson, who can provide options for new quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Samuel, who had 54 receptions and six scores last season and was widely considered the Panthers’ deep threat last season, is entering the final year of his contract – with Anderson’s signing, the Panthers may entertain thoughts of trading the 23-year old talented wideout.
In his second year in the league, Anderson broke out with the most touchdowns on deep passes of any receiver in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus – every one of his seven trips to the end zone was from more than 20 yards out. The two-year deal is the fourth agreement with a Temple player since free agency opened last week, in addition to the nine staff members who came to the Panthers after spending time with Rhule at Temple.
Whatever the Panthers plan is in free agency, whether it’s win-now, win-later or a combination of both, it appears clear that Matt Rhule is having a large say in it.