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Matt Rhule has final say, but looking to build relationship with new GM

Matt Rhule

CHARLOTTE – For head coach Matt Rhule, there's a distinction, but it's not much of a difference.

Rhule confirmed Friday that, technically, he has final say over the team's roster. But he also made it clear that he's not looking at new general manager Scott Fitterer as a subordinate, either.

"I think in terms of on the contract, a lot of those things probably rest with me," Rhule said. "But that's not something I'm real interested in. I told you guys from the very beginning, . . . I think it's kind of a formality.

"Scott's here to run the personnel. He's here to build the roster. He's here to establish the draft process. I think some things are written into the contract, but I think we're going to work collaboratively and work together."

Owner David Tepper also stressed the "collaborative" nature of this process, as he went looking for someone in this job who could grow alongside Rhule as he learns the NFL process.

Fitterer has talked about a "no ego" ethos that pervaded through the Seattle front office, where head coach Pete Carroll was hired from college with final say, and GM John Schneider followed.

On draft days in Seattle, Schneider was in the middle, with Carroll on the right and Fitterer on the left.

"It's very similar to the 2010 version of John and Pete, where Pete got there first, and it was his program and his vision, and John was brought in a couple of weeks later after the interview process, and they found a fit," Fitterer said Thursday. "It's very much like that, but that relationship has really grown over the years. It's become a collaboration.

Schneider Fitterer

"In the beginning, Pete was really in charge. But through no egos and the collaboration and the trust and the deep conversations they've had, Pete has opened up, and it's really a partnership. It's really a marriage between the two. And I've never seen an argument between them. They can challenge each other, they can have discussions, but in the end, they've always been in lockstep, and I think that's important for a GM and a coach to have. I think it was pretty quick, once Pete saw who John was and the type of person he was/ he opened himself up pretty quick.

"That's what I think it's going to be like here. Matt's been great so far, and it's only going to grow from here."

The two are still getting to know each other, and Rhule acknowledged that it was a bit different doing so virtually and over the phone.

Next week's trip to the Senior Bowl will be big for both of them, and Rhule said he figured they'd be having midnight meetings as they learn about each other.

"I want someone that I can argue with," Rhule said. "I want someone I can disagree with. I want someone who can come in to me and say, Why are we playing so-and-so at free safety,' . . . To make this work, you have to have real conversations. Collaborative doesn't mean you do your thing and I do mine; it means that we went into it together. That's unique with someone you don't have a relationship with.

"That's what collaborative means. I don't have the time to do this, and he doesn't have the time to coach the team, but we need to push each other and work together. We have to be the closest of close to make this thing great."

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