Carolina Panthers

NFL owners meetings: 5 items of interest to Carolina Panthers, league

Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short, left, chases Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, right, out of the pocket during an NFC playoff game on Jan. 17 in Charlotte.
Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short, left, chases Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, right, out of the pocket during an NFC playoff game on Jan. 17 in Charlotte. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Half of the Carolina Panthers’ contingent was delayed because of weather Sunday and arrived at the NFL annual meetings about 90 minutes later than scheduled.

Their owner won’t be here at all.

Part of the reason Jerry Richardson decided to go ahead with shoulder surgery this week rather than attend the meetings is because of what is considered by many to be a light agenda. There’s not a labor deal to try to hash out, the Rams won the L.A. sweepstakes and Richardson is no longer as active on league committees as he once was.

But there will still be business that takes place this week at the posh Boca Raton Resort. The Observer looks at five items of interest to the Panthers and the NFL in general.

Richardson’s absence: Most league officials and fellow owners didn’t know Richardson was missing the meetings until they arrived, including Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Jones was instrumental in swinging the L.A. vote in favor of the Rams and a stadium project in Inglewood, Calif. Richardson and five of the six owners on the L.A. committee backed a plan that would have allowed the Chargers and Raiders to move into a new stadium in Carson, Calif.

Associates of Richardson have said the L.A. decision took some steam out of the Panthers’ 79-year-old owner. But Jones said Sunday he hopes Richardson is not harboring any resentment.

“Jerry has always got the league’s best interest in mind and has made a tremendous contribution to the league. In no way have I ever experienced serious lingering emotion regarding a decision,” Jones told the Observer. “Jerry would be the first one to tell you that’s what the ownership wanted, and he would be right there with the team.”

Ron Rivera’s rule proposal: After watching Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan escape sacks against Carolina by flinging the ball away, the Panthers submitted a proposal to expand the intentional grounding rule, which allows quarterbacks to do so as long as there’s a “realistic chance of completion.”

The rule then goes on to define that as any “pass that lands in the direction and the vicinity of an originally eligible receiver.” Rivera and the Panthers don’t like that ambiguity.

But given the steps the league continues to take to protect quarterbacks, any proposal that might undercut some of those protections likely will have a tough time passing.

A chance to resume Josh Norman talks?: It has been all quiet on the Norman front since the Panthers applied the franchise tag to their All-Pro cornerback March 1. The Panthers might be content to pay Norman, 28, the $13.95 million he’s guaranteed under the tag, which he hasn’t signed yet.

But if they do want to resume discussions on a long-term deal, this week would seem to be an appropriate time. Norman’s agent lives in south Florida and is expected to be at the meetings this week.

CTE-concussions link: Commissioner Roger Goodell will address reporters at the conclusion of the meetings Wednesday, when he’s certain to be asked about a senior league official acknowledging a link between repeated concussions and CTE last week in front of a congressional committee.

Many in the league have taken the posture that the comments by senior vice president for health and safety Jeff Miller were in line with the NFL’s previous public stance on the matter.

But Giants owner John Mara told reporters here Sunday he was concerned about the spike in reported concussions last season, when they jumped to 271 from 206 in 2014. Mara called it a “setback,” adding he hopes it was a one-year aberration.

Two strikes and you’re out: Goodell’s Super Bowl week recommendation that any player penalized for two personal fouls in the same game should face ejection looks like it will go through, albeit with a caveat. The competition committee’s proposal calls for an automatic ejection of players whistled for two unsportsmanlike penalties, specifically throwing a punch or kicking an opponent, taunting or using abusive or threatening language.

Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman thinks the new proposal is foolish.

“But it sounds like something somebody who’s never played the game would say, something that they would suggest, because (Goodell) doesn’t understand,” Sherman told ESPN in an interview that aired Sunday. “He’s just a suit.”

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