Tagged in: agree

Carolina Panthers, A.J. Bouye agree to contract

The Carolina Panthers on Wednesday agreed to a deal with free-agent cornerback A.J. Bouye as they attempt to improve their secondary heading into this month’s NFL draft.

Bouye, a Pro Bowler in 2017, will be suspended for the first two matches of the 2021 season as part of a six-game ban he received last year for violations of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

He will be permitted to participate in offseason and preseason practices, according to the league.

Carolina signed 10-year veteran corner Rashaan Melvin to a one-year deal earlier in free agency. Bouye, 29, was released by Denver in February after appearing in only seven games because of injuries and the suspension. He was traded to the Broncos from Jacksonville in March 2020, after being a big part of the Jaguars’ run to the AFC Championship Game in the 2017 season.

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Bouye entered the NFL in 2013 with Houston as an undrafted free agent.

He played well enough that he received a five-year, $67.5 million deal with Jacksonville in 2017.

He had six interceptions that season in 16 starts. He has only two picks since, and he had none for Denver last year. In 69 career starts, he has 14 interceptions overall.

Bouye likely will be penciled in as the starter in Carolina opposite Donte Jackson, who is in the last year of his rookie deal.

The former Central Florida standout will compete with Melvin, likely on the right side.

The addition of Bouye lessens the urgency to use the No. 8 pick of the draft on a corner. The team eliminated the need to draft a quarterback on Monday after trading with the New York Jets for Sam Darnold, but general manager Scott Fitterer stated that doesn’t totally precluded using the eighth pick on that position.

“What we wanted to do going into this draft through free agency, through this trade with Sam, was to just get rid of all the needs we have,” Fitterer said Monday.

“We wanted to get to a place where the roster was in a good spot, and we could take the best player at No. 8.”

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Donald Cerrone, Diego Sanchez agree to welterweight fight May 8

Two of the biggest fan favorites in UFC history — and a pair of former teammates — will fight this spring.

UFC veterans Donald Cerrone and Diego Sanchez have verbally agreed to a May 8 fight, sources confirmed to ESPN on Thursday. The bout will be contested at welterweight, sources said.

While both fighters’ respective teams have agreed, no contracts have been signed and the fight has not yet been officially declared. Sanchez wrote Thursday on Twitter that the bout versus Cerrone will be his “UFC finale.”

Sanchez and Cerrone were training partners for many years at the storied JacksonWink MMA gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but had a falling out in 2018 when Cerrone left the team. Sanchez has since left JacksonWink MMA, as well.

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Cerrone (36-15, 2 NC) is a surefire future UFC Hall of Famer and one of the best fighters of all time who has not held a UFC title.

“Cowboy” owns the most victories in UFC history (23), the most finishes in UFC history (16) and the most postfight bonuses in promotion history (18). He is tied for the most UFC fights with Jim Miller (36).

Cerrone, 36, is winless in five consecutive and trying to pick up his first victory since May 2019.

Sanchez (30-13) in 2005 was the first-ever tournament winner on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, which is credited with helping take the UFC to the next level in terms of popularity. His 2009 fight with Clay Guida was inducted in the UFC Hall of Fame’s fight wing in 2019.

Sanchez, 39, is tied for the second-most Fight of the Night bonuses in UFC history (7). The New Mexico native is coming off a loss to Jake Matthews at UFC 253 in September but has won three of his past five fights. MMA Fighting was first to report the agreement for the fight.

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Carolina Panthers agree to deal with CB Eli Apple

Free-agent cornerback Eli Apple has agreed to sign with the Carolina Panthers, the team announced Thursday.

The 24-year-old had previously agreed to a deal with the Las Vegas Raiders, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter noted March 18, but Schefter reported April 2 that the two sides “were unable to finalize a contract.”

Apple’s NFL career started when the New York Giants drafted him 10th overall in 2016. He had a tumultuous two-plus campaigns before the Giants traded him to the New Orleans Saints in October 2018.

“There’s only just one corner that … needs to grow, and we all know who that is. That would be the only person I would change out of our secondary group. Besides, the other two guys, [Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie] and [Janoris Jenkins], I love those two guys. They play hard. They love what they do. But that first pick … he’s a cancer.”

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Apple played 30 matches (23 starts) for the Giants with one pick, two forced fumbles, 20 passes defended and 100 tackles (82 solo).

In the Bayou, he started all 25 regular-season matches he appeared in and recorded two interceptions one forced fumble and 58 tackles (53 solo).

Pro Football Focus graded Apple at 62.9 as a Giant and 65.0 as a Saint. For reference, San Francisco 49ers All-Pro Richard Sherman was Pro Football Focus’ top-ranked cornerback for the 2019 regular season, and he had an overall grade of 88.9.

The Panthers lost cornerback James Bradberry to the New York Giants in free agency. The team then drafted former Notre Dame cornerback Troy Pride Jr. in the fourth round and former Florida International cornerback Stantley Thomas-Oliver III in the seventh round of April’s draft.

Apple will apparently compete for the opportunity to start alongside 24-year-old Donte Jackson at cornerback for the Panthers, who ranked 20th against the pass last year.

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