CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – The NFL Draft, the terminated Rock Hill practice facility contract, the canceled Eastland Mall project, and the team and Matt Rhule’s future were all addressed by Panthers’ owner David Tepper during Wednesday’s news conference ahead of Thursday night’s 2022 NFL Draft.
“We’re gonna respect the City of Rock Hill’s request to have a back and forth in the public about it,” Tepper said of the contract to build a practice facility and team headquarters that was terminated earlier this month.
Tepper later clarified that he and the City do not want to go back and forth in the media. The billionaire hedge fund manager also discussed the failed Eastland Mall project that was set to be the headquarters for Charlotte FC. Tepper said Tepper Sports and Entertainment will do deals where they make sense.
“At some point, we may get to it,” he said, leaving a window open on Rock Hill.
For the most part, Tepper refused to answer questions on facilities and soccer. The Panthers owner introduced the Major League Soccer team this Spring.
As far as Bank of America Stadium’s future, Tepper wouldn’t clarify whether or not a new stadium was still in the works. He cited a study that is currently being conducted on the current land.
Tepper complemented head coach Matt Rhule on off-season hirings and said the coach has his full support. Rhule’s future is murky with back-to-back five-win seasons. Coming straight from the college ranks, some of his play-calling has been questioned and his offensive coordinator was dismissed in the middle of the season. “Every year is a new year,” Tepper said of the off-season and upcoming schedule.
Tepper thanked the fans for their support and ongoing support. I know we’re all passionate about this, and the passion sometimes goes both ways,” he said. “I do think we have a very good quarterback in Sam Darnold,” he went on.
The rumors of the Panthers acquiring quarterback DeShaun Watson surfaced. Watson, who was facing numerous sexual harassment accusations while with the Houston Texans, ended up signing with the Cleveland Browns. “Quarterback position is the most important position on the field. We’re always looking,” he said.
As far as a draft-night trade goes, he also left the window open but said cap space and money will play a role in that decision. The Panthers, who finished the season 5-12, hold the No. 6 pick.