What David Tepper’s presence means for Panthers’ pursuit of Derek Carr

(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) David Tepper
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) David Tepper /

What does David Tepper’s involvement at the Carolina Panthers meeting with Derek Carr mean for their pursuit of the free-agent quarterback?

Even though the NFL Scouting Combine is normally associated with evaluating and speaking with talented college prospects, there is more than meets the eye this time around. More specifically, the presence of Derek Carr in Indianapolis, who has met with the Carolina Panthers and others before choosing his eventual destination.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Carr met with the Panthers and New Orleans Saints on Tuesday. He plans to speak with the New York Jets for a second time today (Wednesday), which is something to monitor closely given how complimentary general manager Joe Douglas was about the signal-caller during his recent media availability.

David Tepper attended the Carolina Panthers meeting with Derek Carr

Perhaps the biggest noteworthy revelation from Rapoport centered around David Tepper. Carolina’s billionaire owner took the time to make an appearance to attend the meeting, which is a big deal in more ways than one.

Firstly, Tepper wouldn’t have bothered making the trip if he didn’t think the Panthers were serious about bringing Carr into the fold. It adds significantly more weight to the speculation and probably left the Pro Bowler feeling pretty good after the discussion concluded.

Secondly, this is another sign of Tepper meddling in football-related affairs. Something that’s done more harm than good throughout his spell as an NFL owner to date.

Tepper’s done a decent job of letting head coach Frank Reich and general manager Scott Fitterer lead the way this offseason. This has got some fans back onside, although there is a long way to go before that objective is fully accomplished.

This might just be Tepper overseeing things and getting a better feel for Carr. It doesn’t harm things if this is an actual smokescreen before going in a different direction, either.

However, given how unpredictable and rash Tepper’s often been with decisions throughout his tenure, fans are right to be nervous. There are many factors that make this risky – most notably the financial demands and poor production last season – so adding another veteran down on his luck isn’t going to be universally well-received.

The Panthers are right to do their due diligence if that’s all this is. Should it become more, then it severely restricts their ability to strengthen other positions and perhaps even extend the likes of Bradley Bozeman, who is a top priority heading into free agency.

Carr has some questions to answer after his time with the Las Vegas Raiders ended under a cloud. He’ll get another shot at starting immediately, but where has yet to be determined.

Tepper’s presence at the meeting certainly makes the Panthers more legitimate than many believed when the news was first revealed. Even if this does go away from Fitterer’s preference to draft and develop their guy.

All fans can do is wait with nervous trepidation or excitement, whichever side of the fence you’re on.

Thankfully, it won’t be much longer before Carr decides, making him the first major free-agent domino during what’s sure to be another dramatic few weeks.

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