Tagged in: Carolina Panthers

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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Redskins get QB Kyle Allen in trade with Panthers

The Redskins have been talking about trades when it comes to Trent Williams and Quinton Dunbar, but on Monday, the team in fact completed a deal.

Washington acquired quarterback Kyle Allen from Carolina and sent a fifth-round pick to the Panthers in return for the passer, according to NFL Network reports. 

After some rumors about Cam Newton, the Burgundy and Gold landed a far less famous signal caller from Ron Rivera’s former franchise, but one that makes a lot of sense for his new one.

Allen, who just turned 24 years old, entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2018 out of the University of Houston after initially starting his college career at Texas A&M.

Allen started the 2018 campaign finale for the Panthers and started 12 more contests in 2019 in place of an injured Newton, before ceding the job to Will Grier for the final few weeks.

He concluded last year with a 5-7 record and a passer rating of 80. He threw 17 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and completed 62-percent of his passes.

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This trade gives the Redskins someone who’ll be very familiar with Rivera and Scott Turner’s plan on offense, something that could be even more valuable than normal thanks to the unusual offseason that may be ahead for the NFL. 

The trade also should put to rest any question of Dwayne Haskins’ status on the depth chart.

While Allen definitely flourished at times in Carolina — his best pro games top Haskins’ best — and he should be able to give some level of heat on Washington’s first-rounder, it’s hard to imagine him beating Haskins out as of now.

Some will take issue with the Redskins swapping a fifth-rounder for Allen — the Panthers had a surplus of signal callers after adding XFL star PJ Walker earlier Monday — but it’s a move that they clearly felt like they had to make before a possible release.

Washington now has a young, ideal backup in place who should be able to fill in for Haskins if need be, but overall, can move forward with Haskins as their No. 1 QB. Rivera may not come out and declare that, but his actions definitely indicate it.

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Panthers sign quarterback Kyle Allen to a one-year deal

The Panthers have signed quarterback Kyle Allen to a one-year contract extension.

Allen was an exclusive rights free agent, meaning the Panthers essentially held all of his rights. The financial terms were not available on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old Allen replaced an injured Cam Newton in Week 3 last campaign. Allen started off his second NFL season by leading Carolina to four consecutive wins, but struggled down the stretch and was eventually replaced by rookie Will Grier when the Panthers fell out of playoff contention.

Allen concluded the season 5-7 as a starter. He threw for 3,322 yards with a 62 percent completion rate, but turnovers were a major problem. Allen combined for 23 turnovers – 16 on interceptions and seven on fumbles – and had just 17 touchdown passes.

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It’s unclear where Allen stands in the pecking order at quarterback this season.

The Panthers haven’t made a clear ruling on whether Newton will return in 2020.

Newton has one year left on his contract, but the team could save $19 million under this year’s NFL salary if it decides to cut or release the injury-plagued quarterback. Newton has struggled with elbow and foot issues the last two seasons and has lost his last eight starts for Carolina.

He has shown steady progress and has posted numerous videos and pictures on social media showing him throwing and moving on his left foot without limitation.

Grier is also under contract, and it’s possible the Panthers could select a quarterback with the No. 7 overall pick.

Newton is expected to be ready to begin offseason workouts on April 6 at least on a limited basis

Allen becomes the fifth exclusive rights free agent to re-sign with Carolina, joining defensive end Efe Obada, running back Reggie Bonnafon, kicker Joey Slye and defensive back Cole Luke.

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Redskins hire Jennifer King, NFL´s first African American female full-time intern

Jennifer King, who acted as a Carolina Panthers intern during the 2017 preseason, has joined the Washington Redskins’ staff as a full-time assistant coach.

“Jennifer is a bright young coach and will be a great addition to our staff,” head coach Ron Rivera said in the team’s release. “Her familiarity with my expectations as a coach and my firsthand knowledge of her work ethic and preparation were big factors in bringing her to the Redskins.”

Rhiannon Walker of The Athletic first reported the hire on Saturday.

King is the first full-time African American female coach in league history and the fourth female with a full-time assistant job overall, per Walker. Collette Smith was the NFL’s first black female coach, serving as an intern with the New York Jets in 2017.

King acted as an intern for Carolina from May through August 2017 under then-Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, who now leads the ‘Skins after being hired in December.

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Since then, King worked as an assistant wide receivers coach for the now-defunct Alliance of American Football’s Arizona Hotshots and as an offensive assistant for Dartmouth College.

Both teams excelled in 2019

The Hotshots co-led the AAF West division with a 5-3 record when the league folded. The Big Green went 9-1 (6-1 Ivy League) and ended second in their conference.

Previous to her Panthers’ coaching stint, King played in the semi-pro Women’s Football Alliance, winning three championships. She also coached youth and high school teams, per Walker.

As has been the case throughout her coaching career, King will work on the offensive side of the ball, specially with Washington’s running backs.

She joins Tampa Bay Buccaneers assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust, Bucs assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar and San Francisco 49ers offensive assistant Katie Sowers as the only women working as full-time NFL coaches.

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Redskins hire Ron Rivera as new head coach

Over Daniel Snyder’s time as the Redskins’ owner, Washington is where good coaches land to die. Since 2000, when Snyder made Norv Turner the first coach he fired, not one coach has left Washington with a winning record. Even coaches with great résumés like Marty Schottenheimer, Mike Shanahan and Steve Spurrier couldn’t do it.

Rivera is up next. The two-time NFL Coach of the Year with the Carolina Panthers agreed to be the next coach of the Redskins, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Rivera’s career with Carolina started slowly, but he eneded 76-63-1 as Panthers coach. He won NFL Coach of the Year in 2013 and 2015. In 2015, his 15-1 Panthers made the Super Bowl, only to come up short versus the Denver Broncos. Rivera was fired during the 2019 season as the Panthers slumped without quarterback Cam Newton.

Rivera’s abilities as a leader might give him an opportunity to succeed in Washington. He was a great representative of the Panthers franchise, especially during the Jerry Richardson scandal that led to the Panthers’ founder selling the team.

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When Snyder announced he had fired team president Bruce Allen, he said Washington would “reevaluate our team leadership, culture and process for winning football games.”

If anyone can reshape that in Washington with Snyder still owning the team, maybe it’s Rivera. It’ll be a big job, and he’s reportedly going to bring in the big guns to get it done.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Rivera is expected to target Jack Del Rio as his defensive coordinator, who has proven results in defensive improvements when he was the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Denver Broncos.

Washington went 3-13, which wasn’t fun, but it means they get the second pick of the 2020 draft. Expect that to be Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young, who looks like a phenomenal prospect. The rest of the roster has a few interesting players. A key is if 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins can develop at quarterback.

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