Super Bowl 50 might be Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning’s last rodeo, but the Carolina Panthers also have some older ranch hands who could be playing in their final game.
An NFL Films camera picked up Manning telling New England coach Bill Belichick “this might be my last rodeo” after the AFC Championship Game. While there’s no audio of any Panthers making similar comments, the team has several players in their 30s who are at or near the end of their contracts.
Strong safety Roman Harper, 33, always wanted to play at least 10 years, a threshold he reached this season. Harper will be a free agent in March, but said he hasn’t thought about his future plans.
“I don’t know. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there,” Harper said. “I always said I wanted to play 10, then I’ll look at it after that. I ran up on 10 pretty fast. I’m still capable of playing. I don’t know.”
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Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (33) and cornerback Charles Tillman (34) also will be free agents. Defensive end Jared Allen (33) is under contract for next season, but his $8.5 million salary is not guaranteed so the Panthers could cut him without taking a salary-cap hit.
Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (34) has one year left on his deal. But the veteran said that retiring after winning a Super Bowl is something he would consider.
“It’s weird to think about. You always want to go out on top,” Edwards said. “It’d be something I’ll have to think about after the season. No other better way to go out than that, for sure.”
Cotchery and Edwards both said their focus is on enjoying – and winning – their first Super Bowl.
“I’ve been through this moment a bunch of times in my head. So this moment feels familiar to me because I’ve seen it, walked through it so many times,” Cotchery said. “I’m just enjoying this moment. It’s easy to do it with this group. It’s been an incredibly fun year.”