Chris Weinke Update

Last year at this time, Chris Weinke was considered the Carolina Panthers' No. 1 quarterback and the center of attention despite going 1-14 as a starter in 2001. Right now, however, he is little more than an afterthought. Still, the former FSU standout and Heisman Trophy winner knows he can contribute. "I know Chris Weinke has a grit about him, and he wants to prove me wrong and to prove the rest of the coaching staff wrong. He wants to be the starting quarterback here," coach John Fox said.

A year ago at this time, Chris Weinke was considered the Carolina Panthers' No. 1 quarterback and the center of attention despite going 1-14 as a starter in 2001.

Right now, however, he is little more than an afterthought.

Nobody could have imagined last May that Weinke would lose his starting job to a 36-year old Rodney Peete. But he did. And now, with Peete re-signing during the off-season and with some high-ranking officials in the organization high on free agent pickup Jake Delhomme, Weinke's future with the Panthers is on shaky ground.

Although Panthers head coach John Fox recently "every job is open for competition," the real truth is about the best Weinke can hope for is to beat out Randy Fasani for the team's No. 3 job.

On the other hand, Weinke could be released anytime after June 1 allowing the team to split his $2.8 million prorated signing bonus over the next two seasons.

"My focus is to be the best that I can be," said Weinke, whose $2.6 million cap figure this season could be a determining factor in his future here.

"They're going to make that decision and it will all depend on our productivity. Whether that decision is made before camp, during camp or after camp, that's their decision."

For what it's worth, Fox said he's been impressed how Weinke has approached the off-season in a business-like manner, attending all of the workout sessions and studying tape.

"I know Chris Weinke has a grit about him, and he wants to prove me wrong and to prove the rest of the coaching staff wrong," Fox said. "He wants to be the starting quarterback here. And he'll have that opportunity to compete. I just like the way he's prepared himself this off-season."

Weinke was, by all accounts, terrible last season. Among the 69 players who threw passes in the NFL last season, Weinke ranked 67th with a quarterback rating of 26.2. He completed just 17 of 38 passes for 180 yards with three interceptions, six sacks and no interceptions.

"The one thing I said to myself once last year was over was that this upcoming season is a brand new year," Weinke said. "Let's forget about last year and forget about what took place. I want to learn from the mistakes I made last year and just come in here with a clean slate and compete. I'm not going to sit and complain."

Weinke, who is under contract for three more years with the Panthers, said he hasn't approach the organization about a trade.

"No, to me, at this point in time, that wasn't an option," Weinke said.

"I feel like in my mind I have the confidence to play this position. Whether or not I'm the starter, the backup, the third-string guy or not even here, that won't change how I approach the game. "For me to go in there and ask for a trade and rock the boat when possibly there may be a spot here for me wouldn't be a smart move."

At this point, Weinke isn't necessarily convinced the grass is greener on the other side.

"I like this place and the organization and the direction they are moving. I was a part of the worst times here and it would be nice to be here when the times get better. I would love to be a part of that.

"To go from the bottom and then move in the right direction and to be here when it gets to the top would be great. I have no problem. I love this place. I enjoy playing here. Would it be better in another place? Who knows? I can't see the future. But I do enjoy it here and I will continue to work and do my job."


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