CHARLOTTE, N.C. – This offseason,Wide receiver has done a lot of what he said is “thinking out loud’’ – and occasionally deleting those thoughts – which created plenty of buzz on Twitter.
He indicated he didn’t want the team to trade forquarterback Scott Fitterer, the general manager for the NFL draft, suggested that retirement might be an option last weekend.
These thoughts were first shared Wednesday by him as the Panthers concluded the second half of their mandatory minicamp.
Reacting to a tweet claiming that the Panthers were trying trade for Mayfield (to rival incumbent starters),) with the comment “Nooooo,’’ Anderson said: “I said what I said. Just trying to be an excellent teammate to my quarterback. That’s it. I am just trying to defend the man who is my quarterback. You understand? That’s it.’’
When Darnold was asked if he felt Darnold was his teammate for the past two seasons, he replied that he did.and one with the Panthers, had been defended enough during a career that has seen him go 17-32 as a starter, Anderson said: “I mean, as of now, that’s my quarterback. I’ve got to make him right and stand up for him.’’
Asked what his response would be if the Panthers acquired Mayfield, which team officials haven’t ruled out as a possibility, Anderson said: “It’ll be what it is, you know.’’
He didn’t expand. He just said his tweet wasn’t meant to be personal toward Mayfield.
“I don’t know Baker,’’ Anderson said.
Anderson’s eyebrow-raising offseason on social media took another twist Saturday when he tweeted, then deleted, “Ain’t gone lie. Thinking about retiring.’’
Anderson made it clear Wednesday that he does not plan to retire.
“I’m here, right?’’ he said.
If he changed his mind, he would have to return $11.77million that he received in march when the Panthers converted $8.97million of salary and a $2.8million roster incentive into a signing bonus. This would clear approximately $6 million in cap room.
Anderson was not able to attend Phase 3 of the offseason workouts in Florida, so he did not tweet his original tweet. Darnold was at least interested in the tweet, as the Panthers are now learning a new system under Ben McAdoo, their offensive coordinator.
“At first, it was kind of a surprise,’’ Darnold said.
Asked whether he took Anderson’s tweet seriously or it was Anderson being Anderson, Darnold wouldn't go there. Anderson had already changed his name spelling from Robby to Robbie, and his jersey number from 11 on to 3. This was the same shirt he wore in highschool.
“There’s a lot of ways to look at that,’’ Darnold said. “I’m not going to dive into that.’’
Matt Rhule, Anderson's former coach at Temple, would not be able to coach them both.To get him back to school in order to make the NFL possible.
“I don’t pay attention to anybody’s tweets,’’ Rhule said. “People tweet what they want. Even when I was a college coach for a long time, I’ve learned … I just let things slide.’’
But Rhule believes the 29-year-old Anderson, who told trainers Wednesday he wasn’t physically able to practice, will follow a subpar 2021 season with a “ton of production’’ in McAdoo’s system. He went so far as to say the offense was “perfect’’ for a player like Anderson, who can play all three receiver spots.
“In hiring Ben, one of the things that was really important was I don’t want to just utilize one or two players,’’ said Rhule, who has been emphatic all offseason he doesn’t want the offense to be all about running back.
Anderson was a productive player in 2020. He had a career high 95 catches and 1,096 yards. Anderson finished the season with 53 catches and 519 yards after receiving a $29.5million two-year extension.
Anderson wants to see improvement. One reason he changed his jersey number was “it represents new beginnings.’’
“That’s how I feel in a lot of aspects in my life,’’ he said. “A lot of growth, elevation. It’s saucy. It looks better than 11.’’