Tagged in: Carolina Panthers

New England Patriots trade CB Stephon Gilmore to Carolina Panthers for draft pick

A trade for New England Patriots Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore and the return of Pro Bowl running back Christian McCaffrey helped the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday get over their first loss of the campaign.

Both happened almost simultaneously as players made their way to the practice field.

The Gilmore trade in particular brightened the mood.

“That’s pretty dope, man,” cornerback Donte Jackson said.

Carolina general manager Scott Fitterer sent a 2023 sixth-round pick to New England for Gilmore, who had been set to be released later in the day. The 31-year-old from nearby Rock Hill, South Carolina, is expected to come off the physically unable to perform list after Week 6.

Fitterer stated he expects Gilmore, who is arranged to be in Charlotte for a physical on Thursday, to be ready for an Oct. 24 game versus the New York Giants

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McCaffrey could be available to play on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles after missing a 36-28 loss at Dallas with a hamstring injury.

Coach Matt Rhule said his star back looked good in practice Wednesday despite being limited and likely would be a game-time decision.

The Panthers got wind that Gilmore might be available on Tuesday night. That turned to reality on Wednesday morning when it was announced the Patriots planned to release the four-time Pro Bowl corner, who is recovering from offseason surgery to repair a partially torn quad.

Gilmore became available because the Patriots were unable to get the corner to agree to a restructured deal. The Panthers beat out several other teams that showed interest in trading for Gilmore.

They will be responsible for $5.8 million of Gilmore’s 2021 contract. Fitterer said Gilmore agreed to play the remainder of the season without an extension, but he’s open to one after the year.

Much depends on how Gilmore plays. Coach Matt Rhule said he can’t wait to get Gilmore on the field.

“I think anytime you can get a [former] All-Pro player for a future sixth, we’re going to do it, right?” he said. “… This was just one of those things where it was too good to pass up. He’s too good of a player and he’s from here. Football character-wise, he just adds to the core of what we are.”

The need for a cover corner stated when Carolina lost first-round pick Jaycee Horn to a broken foot in a Sept. 23 win at Houston. Fitterer traded last week for Jacksonville’s C.J. Henderson, a first-round pick in 2020.

Henderson remains somewhat of a project.

“C.J. is for the future,” Fitterer said. “Stephon is to win now.”

Fitterer also didn’t rule out that Horn could return late in the season or possibly the playoffs, if Carolina qualifies, after undergoing surgery. But he made it clear the goal is to make the playoffs.

Gilmore gives the Panthers a veteran who can have a positive impact on a young secondary until then and one who can be an asset if Carolina makes the playoffs.

He also happens to live three doors down from Fitterer in a neighborhood south of Charlotte. Fitterer called Gilmore a “quality guy” who will be a “great presence for the younger guys.”

Gilmore and Patriots coach Bill Belichick had both offered public goodbyes before the announced trade.

Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold faced Gilmore twice when he was with the New York Jets, so he’s glad he won’t have to face Gilmore when the Patriots come to town. Gilmore had two interceptions against him.

“Dang good player,” Darnold said. “I had two of my toughest games against him.”

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Richard Sherman signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers: ‘Best offer I had’

Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman has signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team revealed Wednesday.

A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Sherman signed a one-year contract.

Sherman had been in discussions with the Buccaneers for several weeks and said on “The Richard Sherman Podcast” that multiple teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers, also expressed interest.

“I went with the best offer I had, the best opportunity to go out there and put some great tape on, to lead another group,” Sherman stated. “I feel comfortable and confident in my abilities to go out there and execute and help that team win.”

Sherman said quarterback Tom Brady reached out to him as well.

“He’s the all-time great quarterback reaching out, and anytime he makes that call, it’s a very difficult opportunity to pass up,” Sherman said. Sources told ESPN’s Ed Werder on Tuesday that Sherman thinks he needs a week or two to be ready to play in a game.

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Also Wednesday, the Buccaneers placed wide receiver Scotty Miller on injured reserve.

A source told Schefter on Monday that Miller was dealing with a toe injury.

The Buccaneers will be Sherman’s third NFL team, after he spent the past three seasons with the 49ers and played the first seven years of his career in Seattle.

Sherman, 33, can provide valuable experience in one of the league’s youngest defensive backfields. He is also a sure tackler, which has been an issue for the Tampa Bay defense this campaign.

The Buccaneers are without Sean Murphy-Bunting, who was placed on injured reserve with a dislocated right elbow Sept. 20, and Jamel Dean, their third cornerback, who left Sunday’s game versus the Los Angeles Rams with a knee injury in the first quarter and did not return.

Sherman is dealing with legal issues and has a pretrial hearing scheduled for Friday in Washington. He was arrested in July in connection with an incident at the home of his wife’s parents in Redmond, Washington, and was charged with five misdemeanors, including two counts of domestic violence — criminal trespass in the second degree and malicious mischief in the third degree — as well as resisting arrest, driving while under the influence and reckless endangerment of roadway workers.

He pleaded not guilty to all five charges and said in a statement on Twitter in July that he was “deeply remorseful” for his actions and “behaved in a manner I’m not proud of.”

In February, King County prosecutors and the sheriff also obtained an “extreme risk protection order” for Sherman, barring him from having guns after a judge determined he posed a danger to himself and others. Details of the case were sealed.

The Buccaneers did their due diligence on Sherman’s legal situation and believe he has the necessary support systems in place, sources told ESPN’s Jenna Laine

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Carolina Panthers, Robby Anderson reach 2-year extension

Wide receiver Robby Anderson didn’t waste any time during Tuesday’s practice showing why he deserved the two-year extension the Carolina Panthers gave him earlier in the day that sources said is worth $29.5 million.

First, the 28-year-old made a one-handed snag of a scrambling Sam Darnold pass that — while just out of bounds in the end zone — was spectacular.

Later, he made an even more impressive catch of a deep pass from Darnold that went off his hand, off the back foot of cornerback Donte Jackson and back into Anderson’s hands for a touchdown.

As hot as it was outdoors with the heat index right at 100 degrees, Anderson was even hotter in the team’s indoor practice facility.

“Since I came here I felt like I was finding my dream,” stated Anderson, who signed a two-year deal with Carolina last season after spending his first four seasons with the New York Jets.

“Early on in my career, I was kind of lost in a sense and trying to find my way. “I wouldn’t call them mistakes. I would call them lessons that I learned, putting me where I need to be around people I need to be around for me to learn from those things and grow into a better man.”

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That Anderson gets the opportunity to reunite with Darnold figured into his decision to sign the extension of which $20.5 million is guaranteed, according to sources. Anderson was Darnold’s favorite target with the Jets in 2018 and 2019. He had 102 catches for 1,431 yards and 11 touchdowns during that time.

“That’s a big factor, too,” Anderson said. “Being back with a quarterback that I’m confident in, that I know is going to be here as well … everything across the board it was all checkmarks.”

The Panthers traded for Darnold during the offseason, then picked up his fifth-year option that locks him down through 2022.

Keeping Darnold surrounded by skill players such as Anderson, the Panthers believe, gives him the best chance to succeed after struggling for three years in New York. They’ve already picked up the fifth-year option on wide receiver DJ Moore for next season and still could sign him to an extension.

They also have running back Christian McCaffrey locked down through 2025 after signing him to a four-year, $64 million extension last year.

“I’m excited for this season, and also excited for the future,” Anderson said.

Anderson is coming off a career-high 95 catches for 1,096 yards in an offense that was missing McCaffrey for 13 games. He believes he can be even better moving forward.

“The main goal is to win,” said Anderson, referring to the Panthers going 5-11 last season. “I’m just glad to have the opportunity for us to accomplish what we’re really working for.”

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New York Giants sign former first-rounder Kelvin Benjamin

The New York Giants have signed former Carolina Panthers first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin, the team revealed Sunday.

Benjamin and former Philadelphia Eagles running back and Super Bowl hero Corey Clement impressed over the weekend during tryouts at rookie minicamp and received one-year deals.

A wide receiver who had more than 1,000 yards as a rookie for the Panthers in 2013, Benjamin has not played in the NFL since 2018. He worked primarily as a tight end at the tryout.

“In terms of Benjamin working a different position [Friday], we’re going to work different guys at a variety of things right now,” Giants coach Joe Judge said.

“He’s a big guy. He’s always been a big receiver. He’ll work receiver. He’s working a little bit flex tight end as well. “I wouldn’t really kind of, you know, pin him down to any one position at this point. We’re going to use the weekend to move him around to different spots and see how it works out.”

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Benjamin would join a crowded tight end room along with Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph, Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo. The Giants also are deep at wide receiver after adding Kenny Golladay and John Ross in free agency and drafting Kadarius Toney in the first round.

This will make it tough for Benjamin to eventually land a spot on the final roster, regardless of position.

It was just three years ago during a Monday Night Football broadcast that ESPN analyst Booger McFarland famously declared Benjamin was “probably a Popeyes biscuit away from being a tight end.”

Benjamin, 30, has spent time with the Panthers, Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs. He has 209 career receptions for 3,021 yards and 20 touchdowns. The 28th overall pick in 2014 was drafted in Carolina by current Giants general manager Dave Gettleman.

Clement, 26, spent the first four campaigns of his professional career with the Eagles. He has been slowed in recent years by injury but is best known for his performance in Super Bowl LII, when he had 100 receiving yards and a touchdown in the Eagles’ upset win over the New England Patriots.

Clement also helped execute the Philly Special, a trick play that resulted in a touchdown reception by quarterback Nick Foles.

The Giants needed veteran depth at running back. With Saquon Barkley coming back from a serious knee injury, the Giants signed Devontae Booker as a free agent and drafted Gary Brightwell in the sixth round.

New York also announced that it had waived running back Jordan Chunn and tight end Nate Wieting.

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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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Jets trade QB Sam Darnold to Panthers for package of NFL draft picks

The New York Jets seem to have cleared the way for the franchise to draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick and turn the keys over to him on Day 1.

The Jets have traded Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers for a 2021 sixth-round pick and 2022 second-round and fourth-round picks, the Panthers announced on Twitter.

The Jets traded up in 2018 to use the No. 3 pick on Darnold. But the USC product had anything but a smooth transition to the NFL, and much of it had to do with the constant state of turmoil that the Jets have found themselves in. Already, he has played for two head coaches in three campaigns. 

In 2019, the Jets replaced Mike Maccagnan, who drafted Darnold, with current general manager Joe Douglas. “I want to publicly acknowledge the commitment, dedication, and professionalism Sam displayed while with the Jets,” Douglas stated Monday in a statement. “He is a tough-minded, talented football player whose NFL story has not been written yet.

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While all these things are true, this move is in the short- and long-term best interests for both this team and him.

We thank Sam for all of his work on behalf of this organization and wish him well as he continues his career.”

The Jets fired Todd Bowles following Darnold’s rookie year and this offseason dismissed Adam Gase after two turbulent seasons. Robert Saleh was hired as head coach, and Darnold faced an unclear future with the organization holding the second overall pick and positioned to take one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft.

Jets brass, including Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, attended BYU quarterback Zach Wilson’s impressive pro day two weeks ago.

It’s expected that the Panthers will exercise the fifth-year option on Darnold’s contract, giving him two seasons to work to reboot his career with Carolina.

Offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who is considered one of the NFL’s bright, young minds, will be tasked with helping Darnold, who ranked 35th in the league in 2020 with a passer rating of 72.7, live up to the potential that he boasted coming out of college.

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Carolina Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater injures knee in loss to Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered an apparent right knee injury in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 46-23 loss to Tampa Bay and did not return.

His status for next week’s game versus Detroit is unclear.

“He got up and walked off,” coach Matt Rhule said of Bridgewater, who was given a three-year, $63 million deal in the offseason to replace Cam Newton. “When it comes to knees and stuff like that, I don’t know. I haven’t had a chance to see him. I have no idea [how he is] .”

The injury occurred with 5:24 remaining when Tampa Bay edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul sacked Bridgewater with a twisting tackle around the knees. Bridgewater was slow to get up and then limped to the sideline, where trainers check out his right knee.

After an extended period under the blue tent, Bridgewater walked under his own power to the locker room as the final minutes expired in a match in which the Bucs outscored the Panthers 29-6 in the second half and outgained them 322 yards to 35.

The injury was not to the same knee that almost ended Bridgewater’s career in 2016 during training camp with the Minnesota Vikings.

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Bridgewater, 28, opened the game with 12 consecutive completions and two touchdown passes as Carolina played to a 17-17 halftime tie. He added a touchdown run on a scramble in the fourth quarter after the Panthers (3-7) were outscored 12-0 in the third quarter en route to their fifth straight loss.

Bridgewater ended 18-for-24 passing for 136 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed three times for 16 yards and a touchdown.

He has been among the league leaders in completion percentage all season as he returned as a full-time starter for the first time since 2015. He suffered a horrific injury that required multiligament reconstruction in 2016. Bridgewater was not made available to media after the game for the first time this season.

The Panthers already were without star running back Christian McCaffrey, who suffered a shoulder injury late in last week’s loss to Kansas City in his first game back after missing six straight with a high ankle sprain.

Rhule said on Friday the outlook for McCaffrey playing against Detroit looked good. If Bridgewater can’t go, the Panthers would go with either P.J. Walker or Will Grier. Walker finished Sunday’s game, but both have had stints as Bridgewater’s backup this season.

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Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey not expected to play Sunday

It appears the Carolina Panthers will again have to find a way to play without their best player.

On Wednesday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Carolina Panthers star running back Christian McCaffrey is not expected to play Sunday versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to a right shoulder injury he suffered the previous Sunday.

According to Schefter, McCaffrey will now be considered “week to week.” McCaffrey will receive a second opinion on his shoulder injury, ESPN’s David Newton reports and CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones confirms.

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The former No. 8 overall pick made his return to the field last week versus the Kansas City Chiefs after suffering an ankle injury in Week 2 against the Buccaneers.

Overall it was a pretty impressive return, as McCaffrey rushed 18 times for 69 yards and a touchdown, and also caught 10 passes for 82 yards and another score. However, he did suffer the shoulder injury which puts his status in doubt moving forward. 

Despite being double-digit underdogs against Patrick Mahomes and Co., Carolina took Kansas City down to the wire. The Panthers lost 33-31, and the 31 points they registered ties for the highest point tally Carolina has recorded this campaign. 

The shoulder injury occurred with 1:10 remaining when safety Daniel Sorensen slammed the Pro Bowl back to the ground near the sideline after a 1-yard catch.

With McCaffrey out, again expect Mike Davis to take over as the dual-threat weapon in the backfield. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is coming off of an impressive performance against the Chiefs, as he completed 36 of 49 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 19 yards and another score.

He will also be expected to step up in McCaffrey’s absence.  McCaffrey didn’t miss a game during his first three NFL seasons, including last year, when he became the third player in league history to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season.

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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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Panthers make Christian McCaffrey NFL’s Highest-paid RB

Days after indicating the Carolina Panthers were “obviously” aiming to extend Christian McCaffrey with a new contract, general manager Marty Hurney has done just that. As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Panthers have signed McCaffrey to a new deal worth $16 million per season, resetting the RB market and making McCaffrey the highest-paid back in NFL history.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has echoed Schefter’s report, noting that McCaffrey’s new contract is a four-year, $64 million deal. While the total value of the extension doesn’t top that of the six-year, $90 million deal Ezekiel Elliott signed with the Dallas Cowboys ahead of the 2019 season, the $16M average annual salary ranks first in the league, just ahead of Elliott ($15M).

Lucrative RB contracts have become increasingly polarizing as the league seemingly devalues the position, what with the New York Jets apparently looking to trade Pro Bowler Le’Veon Bell less than a year into a $52.5M deal and the Los Angeles Rams this offseason cutting ties with Todd Gurley two years after providing him $45M guaranteed.

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McCaffrey, however, might be one of the few exceptions when it comes to RBs worth a big-money extension.

The Stanford product has demonstrated just as, if not more, dangerous as a pass catcher than as a traditional ball-carrier, breaking the NFL record for receptions by a RB in back-to-back campaigns. Drafted eighth overall by the Panthers in 2017, he’s had two straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons to go along with two straight 100-catch performances, totaling nearly 2,400 total yards and 19 touchdowns in 2019.

Still just 23, McCaffrey figures to be a centerpiece of new coach Matt Rhule’s rebuild.

“I’m so excited to continue my career in Carolina,” the RB told ESPN. “I want to thank Mr. (David) Tepper, Marty Hurney, and Coach Rhule for the opportunity to help lead this great franchise, and to all my teammates for their help along the way.”

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