The Carolina Panthers put their offensive line through a major overhaul this offseason. And it turns out, they could’ve hauled in even more.
In a recent profile by Alex Prewitt of Sports Illustrated, retired center JC Tretter revealed that the Panthers were on his shortlist of teams he wanted to sign with shortly after being released by the Cleveland Browns back in the spring. In fact, the Panthers were at the tippy top of that preferred and very exclusive company.
“That fateful time, he feels, has finally come. Released by the Browns in mid-March, four days after he was elected to a second two-year term as president of the NFL Players Association, Tretter hit free agency intending to return for a 10th campaign before retiring,” Prewitt wrote. “His ‘short list’ of dream destinations was topped by the Panthers, as he has a longstanding relationship with offensive line coach James Campen; the Cowboys, ‘because I feel like if you’re going to play one last year, that environment would be fun’; and the Vikings, because he cheered for them as a child and “wanted to put a bow on my childhood.” But, Tretter says, none of the seven teams that his camp contacted reciprocated his interest. ‘Minnesota never returned our call,’ he says.
The standout center spent his first four NFL years with the Green Bay Packers and the final five in Cleveland. Campen, who coached up lines with both organizations, was around Tretter for five of those seasons.
Oh, and he kinda sorta knows the Panthers’ current starting quarterback as well. Save for one game in 2021, Tretter has lined up in front of Baker Mayfield for every single one of the former No. 1 overall pick’s pro outings.
Now, there’s no doubt Tretter could’ve made Carolina’s improved trench even stronger than it has become. But having an interior of Brady Christensen, Bradley Bozeman and Austin Corbett—especially at the price they have them at—ain’t too shabby.