Inside the Panthers

Super Bowl might have been last rodeo for some Carolina Panthers veterans, too

Broncos running back C.J. Anderson (32) runs from Panthers defender Jared Allen (69) early in the first quarter Sunday. Allen, whose contract for 2016 is not guaranteed, wouldn’t discuss his future Tuesday.
Broncos running back C.J. Anderson (32) runs from Panthers defender Jared Allen (69) early in the first quarter Sunday. Allen, whose contract for 2016 is not guaranteed, wouldn’t discuss his future Tuesday. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning didn’t say anything to him about Super Bowl 50 being his “last rodeo” Sunday when the two spoke following Denver’s 24-10 victory.

Manning reportedly used that expression to Patriots coach Bill Belichick after the AFC Championship Game, leading to reports that the Super Bowl would be Manning’s final game.

The Panthers have a few players who could be riding into the sunset themselves.

Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, safety Roman Harper and cornerback Charles Tillman are all in their 30s with expiring contracts.

Tillman, who turns 35 next month, is recovering from surgery after he tore his ACL late in the regular season. It’s the third year in a row Tillman had had a season-ending injury.

Tillman says if he plays anywhere, it would be with Carolina.

“I’ve got to get healthy first,” Tillman said Tuesday. “Then we’ll see what happens from there.”

Carolina Panthers cornerback Charles Tillman discussed his punching out the football to reporters during a Thursday press conference.

Cotchery, who will be 34 by the start of next season, offered little insight into his plans when meeting with reporters. Like Tillman, Cotchery said his preference would be to stay in Charlotte.

“This is a special place. But I don’t know what the future holds right now,” said Cotchery, a former N.C. State star. “Coming back here these past two years has been tremendously wonderful for me. Bringing my wife back down to her home state and playing ball here again, it’s been a wonderful two years here.”

Cotchery had a rough Super Bowl. He had three dropped passes after going the first 18 games without one for the NFL’s lowest drop percentage among wide receivers.

Defensive end Jared Allen still has a year left on his contract with Carolina, which acquired him via a trade with Chicago. But Allen’s $8.5 million salary is non-guaranteed so the Panthers could cut him without penalty.

Allen replied tersely to a question about his future Tuesday, saying he would go through his usual offseason process.

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