Panthers GM: Playing in NFL opener puts us at a competitive disadvantage

“You’ve got to have a practice and you don’t have your practice squad players,” Gettleman said. “It’s kind of a competitive disadvantage.”

The problem with Gettleman’s statement is that both teams are at the same “disadvantage,” which means it’s not exactly a disadvantage because everyone’s on the same footing.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick brought up that point when he was asked about playing in the 2015 opener.

“We have the same amount of time as they do,” Belichick said, before his team hosted the Steelers. “It’s time to play. We’ll be ready to go. They’ll be ready to go. In a couple days, both teams will be maybe a little marginally better prepared, but it’s the same for both teams.”

There’s arguably an advantage to playing in the game: The Panthers will get a 10-day break before they play again in Week 2. Not only that, but Carolina will be hosting a 49ers team in Week 2 that has to travel cross-country following a Monday night game in Week 1.

That’s probably more of a competitive disadvantage for the Niners than playing in the opener.

When the NFL implemented a new kickoff rule this offseason, commissioner Roger Goodell cited safety as a reason for the change. By moving the line of scrimmage after a touchback to the 25-yard line, the NFL theoretically incentivized teams to kneel in the end zone. Eventually, the NFL could eliminate the kickoff, which is regarded as one of the most violent plays in football, altogether.

Still, the Bears obviously have high hopes for the kind of player he can become. How high? Well, the Bears’ new wide receivers coach is already comparing his new pupil to two of his former charges that are likely to end up in Canton one day.

Curtis Johnson was the wide receivers coach for the University of Miami from 1996 through 2005, and during that time he coached two guys named Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne. And the coach sees a little bit of both of them in White.

“Kevin White was one of the better receivers I’ve seen coming out,” Johnson said Friday, per ESPN.com. “He reminded me of some of the guys I had in Miami. He reminded me of Andre Johnson. He’s very similar to him. They’re both big and physical and fast. That doesn’t all go together sometimes. But when you see a big guy who is physical, fast and athletic, you just wonder how good this guy can really be?”

So if you buy that the Cards are willing to make him the highest-paid safety in the league (he is only 24) and you’re ballparking a contract for Mathieu, you’re talking about a deal that’s north of $10 million a year.

$55 million for five years with $20 million guaranteed wouldn’t be out of the question for a team buying a modern defensive weapon (DW is a better term for Mathieu’s position really) through his prime.

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