Tagged in: Eli Apple

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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Eli Apple remains free agent after deal with Riders falls through

Eli Apple is back on the open market. Apple, who reportedly came to terms on a contract with the Raiders back on March 18, is once again a free agent after the two sides were “unable to finalize a contract,” according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

Before coming to terms with Apple, the Raiders reportedly had a two-year contract offer for former Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr., but ultimately determined to instead sign Apple, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Harris, a four-time Pro Bowler, has signed a two-year contract with the Chargers. 

The 10th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Apple, a boundary cornerback, began his career with the Giants before being traded to the Saints midway through the 2018 campaign.

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Apple has logged 48 career regular season starts in 55 games.

He has 233 career tackles, three interceptions, 33 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. Last season, his only full season with the Saints, Apple tallied 53 tackles along with one forced fumble and four passes defensed in 15 games. 

Apple was set to join a Raiders team that had already signed former Bears linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, former Rams linebacker Cory Littleton, former Cowboys defensive tackle Maliek Collins, former Cowboys safety Jeff Heath, and former Buccaneers defensive end Carl Nassib during the first two weeks of free agency. 

With Apple off the table, the Raiders may decide to look into signing Dre Kirkpatrick, a veteran cornerback who was released by the Bengals earlier this week.

In 99 regular season matches with the Bengals, Kirkpatrick received 67 starts while recording 302 tackles, 10 interceptions, two interceptions returns for touchdowns, and 65 passes defensed. His play helped the Bengals move forward to the playoffs four consecutive years from 2012-15.

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