Chris Weinke: What does the future hold?

Chris Weinke was a fourth round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2001. To be more specific, he was the 11th pick of the fourth round, 106th overall. In the four years he has been with the Carolina Panthers he has seen his ups and downs. His rookie season he started 15 games and passed for more than 2,900 yards. In NFL history only one other rookie QB has passed for more yards, that being one Payton Manning.

2002 started his downward spiral. Weinke went from 15 games starting the previous year to only getting the starting nod one time in 2002. He actually played in 6 games that season and threw for 180 yards on 17 out of 38 attempts. Not good for a former Heisman Trophy winner, Florida State standout and the "Future" of the Carolina Panthers.

The job of Starting Quarterback was handed over to Rodney Peete in the summer of 2002. A Veteran in the NFL and one who has seen action at such places as Oakland, Philly, DC, Dallas, and Detroit, Peete was a steadying influence to a team that had set an NFL record for consecutive losses the previous season. Peete proved to be a valuable asset to the Panthers Organization as they went from a 1 and 15 team under Chris Weinke to a 7 and 9 team with Rodney Peete at the helm. Something had to happen however as Peete would be the ripe old age of 37 going into the 2003 season. Would Chris Weinke earn his starting job back and learn under the tutelage of Rodney or would the Panther Organization look to bring in someone else, or draft yet another Quarterback and start the whole process all over again?

As luck would have, be it good or bad for Chris Weinke, the Panthers decided that they would take precautionary measures and sign Jake Delhomme from the New Orleans Saints. During preseason of the 2003 season, Chris Weinke shined and looked to be the obvious starter, if not surely, the backup to Rodney Peete. But halfway through the first game of the season, as Carolina looked to be on the verge of yet another loss, Peete was benched and Carolina went to the backup. No it was not Weinke, it was, as everyone knows by now, Jake Delhomme!

Everyone knows how the rest of the season played out. Delhomme carried the Carolina Panthers on his shoulders, all the way to the SuperBowl. He had some help along the way, with key plays from the likes of Deshaun Foster, Steve Smith, John Kasay and Stephen Davis carrying the rock like no other running back in the Panthers 9 year history. The question that arises in this journalist's mind is "what is going to happen to Chris Weinke"? Is this former Heisman going to be relegated to riding the pine his whole career? Does it really matter what he does out on the field, or is he ever going to be given a fair shot at earning the backup position? Does Carolina even see him in their future and will he be expendable after his contract ends in 2005?

Chris was once quoted on ESPN, "The biggest thing for me is to do what I did throughout camp last year and the preseason and just let it play out. Eventually something has to happen. Either it will work out here or I will go somewhere else." He has stated in the past that he didn't like riding the bench and couldn't see himself doing that for two more years, but that is exactly what he has done. After this season is over, Chris' contract will be up and it doesn't seem that the Panthers would sign him to another contract. tried to contact Thomas Condon, Chris agent, but at the time of the writing of this article he has not responded.

One would wonder if there is any need for a 32 year old Quarterback with only 4 years experience in the NFL. Maybe the Miami Dolphins with their obvious need at QB, maybe the Buffalo Bills as a backup to Drew Bledsoe, one could only speculate at this time. One thing that is for sure however is that Chris has been a standup guy for the Panthers Organization and I for one hope he finds a home somewhere and makes the most of his situation, whatever it may be.

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