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One and Done - FFL: Week 3 | NFL: Championship

Panthers new GM Fitterer plans to 'be in on every deal'

Fri Jan 22 2:58pm ET
By STEVE REED
AP Sports Writer

CHARLOTTE N.C. (AP) Scott Fitterer says he plans to ''be in on every deal'' as he takes over as the Carolina Panthers' new general manager.

Fitterer's comments came after he was asked in his introductory news conference Friday if he'd be interested in trading for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who could be on the outs in Houston.

Fitterer wouldn't specifically address Watson or any other player, saying ''before we do anything outside, I need to find out who we have here.'' But he made it clear the Panthers will explore all options to upgrade a team that has failed to make the playoffs in each of the last three seasons.

Finding a long-term solution at quarterback will be a top priority for Fitterer, who was hired away from the Seattle Seahawks by owner David Tepper on Jan. 14.

Teddy Bridgewater struggled at times in his first season under center in Carolina, particularly in the fourth quarter. He finished 4-11 as the team's starter and seemed to regress as the year went along.

The team's backups include P.J. Walker and Will Grier, who have three NFL starts between them.

''I want someone who can lift the players around them, someone who gives you an opportunity to win when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter,'' Fitterer said of his ideal QB. ''Someone that has the leadership qualities that when they walk into the building they know that is the person in charge. Those are the most important things.

''Then you get into the decision-making, the intelligence, the arm strength and accuracy, but really when it comes down to it, it's the leadership and ability to compete and win when the game is on the line.''

Fitterer said he believes in drafting a quarterback every year.

The Panthers have the No. 8 pick in the NFL draft this year and quarterback is certainly an option.

Panthers owner David Tepper said that structurally not much has changed since the team fired general manager Marty Hurney in December.

He expects that Fitterer and first-year head coach Matt Rhule will work ''collaboratively'' on personnel decisions, but added that as a matter of practicality Fitterer will have say over the overall roster while Rhule will be in charge of the game day roster.

''I look forward to being in collaboration with Coach Rhule,'' Fitterer said.

Rhule said he knows that disagreements will come, but believes that's a good thing.

''I want someone that I can argue with,'' Rhule said. ''I want someone that I can disagree with. I want someone that is going to come into (my office) and say, 'Why aren't we playing so-and-so at free safety?' To make this work, you have to have real conversations. Collaborative doesn't mean, hey, you do your thing and I will do mine. It means that we went into it together.''

This is Fitterer's first general manager job after spending the last 20 years with the Seahawks working alongside GM John Schneider, mostly in evaluating college personnel. He was chosen following an extensive search by the Panthers that included 15 candidates who interviewed with the team over a two-week span.

Schneider said Fitterer will be ''an amazing leader'' for the Panthers.

''Scott is a great evaluator of talent, an excellent communicator and a tremendous person,'' Schneider said.

Along with settling the quarterback position, Fitterer wants to upgrade the Panthers' offensive and defensive lines.

And he said he will work aggressively to ''churn over'' the bottom of the roster to improve the overall depth.

Tepper said along with Fitterer's extensive experience as an evaluator, one of the reasons he hired him was because he had the reputation of being a ''calming voice'' between Schneider and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll when it came to draft day decisions.

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Player Notes
Patrick Mahomes Jan 22 2:30pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (concussion) said that he has been cleared from the league's concussion protocol, which makes him good to go for the AFC Championship against the Bills on Sunday. He was on the practice field on Friday, and head coach Andy Reid said that Mahomes took all of the snaps in Wednesday's practice and most of them on Thursday. The All-Pro signal-caller didn't actually suffer a blow to the head when he was forced to leave the Divisional Round against the Browns, so it was expected all along that he'd be available this weekend. The 25-year-old might be a tad bit more risky given his high DFS price against Buffalo, but Mahomes should be all systems go and has as much upside as any QB this weekend among Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Josh Allen.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jan 22 1:30pm ET

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are officially activating defensive tackle Vita Vea (leg) from Injured Reserve on Friday, and he will be eligible to play in the NFC Championship game against the Packers on Sunday, according to a source. Vea has been out of action since fracturing his leg in Week 5, but he'll be in the trenches for Tampa's strong defensive front in an effort to slow down quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense. Rakeem Nunez-Roches has been holding down the fort at defensive tackle with Vea out this year. We wouldn't be surprised if Vea is limited in how many snaps he can play in his first game back, though, so don't be surprised if Nunez-Roches continues to play a big role. Either way, it's a slight upgrade for a Buccaneers Defense that has a tall task ahead of them at Lambeau Field.

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Antonio Brown Jan 22 12:40pm ET

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Vance McDonald Jan 22 11:50am ET

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Drew Brees Jan 22 11:50am ET

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Davante Adams Jan 21 11:03pm ET

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Derrick Henry Jan 21 10:23pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Henry has been a fantasy monster since Ryan Tannehill took over as the Tennessee quarterback. His massive workload will likely take a toll at some point, but there is no reason he shouldn't deliver another RB1 campaign in 2021.

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Aaron Rodgers Jan 21 9:53pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Rodgers also led the league in touchdown passes in a season that could net him MVP honors for the third time and a second Super Bowl ring. After seeing his numbers dip a bit the last couple of years, he is back in the mix of top-five fantasy options at the quarterback position heading into next season.

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Patrick Mahomes Jan 21 9:30pm ET

Things are trending in the right direction for Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (concussion) to play in the AFC Championship against the Bills on Sunday. Mahomes was limited in practice for the second straight day on Thursday and took the majority of the snaps on offense, a good sign that he didn't suffer a setback after practicing on Wednesday. The hope is that he's a full participant in practice on Friday, which means he'd likely be on his way toward being cleared from the league's protocol before Sunday. The 25-year-old former MVP will be a tad more risky at his elevated DFS price against Buffalo coming off a head injury that knocked him out of the Divisional Round game against the Browns, but Mahomes should put up numbers in what could be a high-scoring affair this weekend as long as he doesn't suffer another head injury.

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Trevor Lawrence Jan 21 9:20pm ET

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Chris Godwin Jan 21 6:53pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Godwin should be ready for the NFC Championship game as long as he does not suffer a setback. He will see plenty of targets against the Green Bay Packers and can be a starting option in all fantasy leagues.

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Fantasy Spin: Evans continues to be one of the main options in the passing game when healthy and is a must-start option in all fantasy leagues if active.

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Ronald Jones II Jan 21 6:43pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Jones shared playing time with Leonard Fournette in the last game but may see a few more touches this week. He can be a starting option in most fantasy leagues.

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Jamaal Williams Jan 21 6:33pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Williams received 12 carries in the Divisional Round playoff game and probably will receive a similar workload against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He can be a possible flex option in some leagues but is not a must-start option.

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Vita Vea Jan 21 6:13pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Vita Vea (ankle) participated in practice Thursday, Jan. 21, and 'looked fit and didn't appear to be having any challenges getting in and out of stance.' according to ESPN's Jenna Laine. 'Vita moved around pretty good today when it was full speed,' head coach Bruce Arians said.

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Antonio Brown Jan 21 6:03pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown (knee) did not practice for a second consecutive day Thursday, Jan. 21, and is expected to be a game-time decision for the NFC Championship game versus the Green Bay Packers, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

Fantasy Spin: As Arians told reporters, Brown is "veteran enough" to handle his business Sunday without getting in any practice this week if it comes to that. Either way, a limited Brown is enough of a reason to back off of him in all fantasy formats, especially because the Buccaneers are deep at receiver. Scott Miller and Tyler Johnson would likely split snaps if he is unable to go.

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Chris Godwin Jan 21 6:00pm ET

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