Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has finally decided to explain why the franchise hasn’t taken any steps to provide their star quarterback with weapons on the outside.
The Panthers have taken sharp criticism for allowing their top four wide receivers to leave for various reasons. Steve Smith, the team’s all-time leading receiver, was cut. Brandon LaFell,Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenik Hixon signed with other teams in free agency.
Rivera told ESPN.com that providing pass protection for Newton was the top priority over finding him weapons.
“I think protecting him” is more important, Rivera said. “You have so many opportunities to get playmakers on the field. Other than the quarterback, there are five other guys who can make plays for you. I think right now what we’ve done is bring in guys who have the ability to make plays for us. I feel very comfortable with that.”
Despite making that claim, Panthers GM Dave Gettleman says the team will select the best available player.
“When you have made up your mind you’re going to take a position because you need to fill that spot, more often than not you’re going to make a mistake,” Gettleman said.