Carolina Panthers Rumors & News

Ted Ginn Jr. Changes Agents

  • Pending Panthers free agent Ted Ginn Jr. has changed his representation, hiring Rosenhaus Sports to replace NC Sports, according to Liz Mullen of of SportsBusiness Journal (Twitter link). Ginn, 31, is coming off a two-year contract with Carolina that paid him $2.1MM annually. In 2016, Ginn managed 54 receptions for 752 yards and four touchdowns.

Bills Interview Ken Dorsey For OC

New Bills head coach Sean McDermott is continuing his search for an offensive coordinator by interviewing Panthers quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey for the position on Wednesday, a source tells Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer.Ken Dorsey (Vertical)

[RELATED: 2017 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker]

Buffalo has already struck out on several offensive coordinator candidates, with the latest being former Jaguars play-caller Greg Olson, who spurned the Bills in order to become the Rams’ quarterback coach. McDermott & Co. was also thought to have interest in Chiefs co-offensive coordinator Brad Childress, but a recent report indicated that Childress is no longer in contention for the position. Former Chargers head coach Mike McCoy was also considered a candidate, but he’s already been hired by Denver.

Dorsey, 35, has worked with McDermott in Carolina for the past several years — the former Miami Hurricane quarterback was initially hired as a pro scout before the Panthers named him their QBs coach in 2013. Dorsey, who carved out a six-year NFL as a backup signal-caller, helped lead Cam Newton to his MVP season in 2015 and has long been thought of as a future offensive coordinator.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/18/17

Here are the latest reserve/futures contract signings from around the NFL. These deals will go into effect on the first day of the 2017 league year, with players joining their respective clubs’ offseason 90-man rosters:

Carolina Panthers

New York Giants

New York Jets

  • LB Jeff Luc

Philadelphia Eagles

49ers Narrow General Manager Search

The 49ers have informed several candidates from their general manager search that they’re out of the running for the job, per a team announcement.

49ers Helmet (Featured)

“The 49ers pared down its list of general manager candidates (Wednesday) morning and thanked those who will not be included in the second round of interviews,” tweeted 49ers spokeman Bob Lange. “Upcoming interviews will be announced as they were in the first round.”

Specifically, the Niners will not invite Panthers assistant GM Brandon Beane, Seahawks co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer, Colts vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye III or ESPN analyst Louis Riddick back for second interviews, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee (Twitter link).

Even before San Francisco eliminated those four from its GM mix, each seemingly had slim odds to land the role. Packers director of college scouting Brian Gutekunst emerged as the favorite earlier this week, and the Niners will also reportedly hold second meetings with Green Bay director of football operations Eliot Wolf and Vikings assistant GM George Paton next week. Those interviews will take place in Atlanta, where Kyle Shanahan coaches. The current Falcons offensive coordinator is the only candidate left for the 49ers’ head coaching position, and he’s set to help the team’s management pick a GM.

Along with Gutekunst, Wolf and Paton, Cardinals vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough is still in play, per Barrows. However, the 49ers have not yet requested another sitdown with him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFLPA Announces Cap Carryover Amounts

The NFL Players Association has announced all 32 teams’ salary cap carryover amounts for the 2017 season (Twitter link). Next season’s cap figure isn’t yet known, but it’s likely to be in the $165MM range. When that becomes official, it can be added to each team’s carryover amount to determine that club’s official spending room for 2017.

Here are this year’s carryover totals:

  1. Cleveland Browns: $50,123,269
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars: $39,314,310
  3. San Francisco 49ers: $38,708,916
  4. Tennessee Titans: $24,046,522
  5. Washington Redskins: $15,055,131
  6. Carolina Panthers: $13,208,020
  7. Miami Dolphins: $8,363,708
  8. Chicago Bears: $8,103,197
  9. Oakland Raiders: $8,000,000
  10. Green Bay Packers: $7,984,687
  11. Philadelphia Eagles: $7,933,869
  12. Denver Broncos: $7,243,248
  13. Indianapolis Colts: $6,614,106
  14. Cincinnati Bengals: $6,578,866
  15. New Orleans Saints: $5,754,000
  16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $5,330,779
  17. New England Patriots: $5,292,335
  18. Kansas City Chiefs: $5,002,168
  19. Houston Texans: $4,935,924
  20. Detroit Lions: $4,725,644
  21. Arizona Cardinals: $4,405,068
  22. Pittsburgh Steelers: $3,269,367
  23. Buffalo Bills: $2,837,222
  24. Baltimore Ravens: $2,553,126
  25. Dallas Cowboys: $2,401,553
  26. Seattle Seahawks: $2,065,865
  27. New York Giants: $1,800,000
  28. Atlanta Falcons: $926,541
  29. Minnesota Vikings: $400,184
  30. New York Jets: $371,487
  31. Los Angeles Rams: $304,311
  32. Los Angeles Chargers: $113,693

Panthers Worked Out Aaron Murray

  • The Panthers worked out free agent quarterback Aaron Murray on Tuesday, reports Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Murray spent 2016 on the Eagles’ practice squad, but he has been available since they elected against signing him to a reserve/futures deal earlier this month. The 26-year-old was a star at Georgia, where he became the SEC’s all-time leader in passing yards, completions and touchdowns, but he hasn’t recorded an NFL statistic since the Chiefs took him in Round 5 of the 2014 draft. With Panthers QBs Cam Newton, Derek Anderson and Joe Webb under contract next year, there’s no clear fit for Murray in Carolina.

Top 3 Offseason Needs: Carolina Panthers

In advance of March 9, the start of free agency in the NFL, Pro Football Rumors will detail each team’s three most glaring roster issues. We’ll continue this year’s series with the Carolina Panthers, who fell to 6-10 this season after making a Super Bowl appearance in 2015.

Depth Chart (via Roster Resource)

Pending Free Agents:

Top 10 Cap Hits for 2017:

  1. Cam Newton, QB: $20,166,000
  2. Luke Kuechly, LB: $12,363,324
  3. Greg Olsen, TE: $10,350,000
  4. Ryan Kalil, C: $8,329,000
  5. Thomas Davis, LB: $8,250,000
  6. Jonathan Stewart, RB: $8,250,000
  7. Star Lotulelei, DT: $6,757,000
  8. Michael Oher, T: $5,500,000
  9. Graham Gano, K: $3,850,000
  10. Kurt Coleman, S: $3,650,000

Other:

Three Needs:

1) Protect Cam Newton. Offensive tackle has seemingly been among the list of the Panthers’ needs since the 2014 offseason, when longtime blindside protector Jordan Gross announced his retirement. Problems have arisen on the right side, as well, and Carolina has run out the likes of Byron Bell, Nate Chandler, David Foucault, and Mike Remmers over the past several years in an effort to keep Cam Newton upright.Michael Oher (Vertical)

At present, Michael Oher is slated to return as the club’s left tackle. The 30-year-old was above-average in 2015, his first season with Carolina, and subsequently agreed to a three-year extension that locks him up through the 2019 campaign. Oher missed all but three games in 2016 while dealing with concussion issues, and there’s an outside chance he’s released this offseason (the Panthers would create $4.5MM in cap space by designating Oher a post-June 1 cut). On the right side, third-year pro Daryl Williams looks like the starter, as 16-game starter Mike Remmers is headed for unrestricted free agency.

Remmers shouldn’t be an offseason priority, especially given that he’s mostly been a disaster during his tenure with the Panthers. A combination of Oher and Williams can probably get by, but ideally, Carolina would try to find a new left tackle in the coming months, a move that would allow Oher to slide back to right tackle. That solution sounds like a doable plan in theory, but the 2017 class of offensive tackles is underwhelming, and Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN.com says that there isn’t a ton of first-round talent in the group.

Alabama’s Cam Robinson is considered the top prospect at the position, but even he comes with flaws that could cause him to fall past the top-10 picks. As Rob Rang of CBSSports.com notes, Robinson has faced off-field concerns (an arrest on weapons and drug charges which were ultimately dropped), while some observers doubt that he’ll be able to stay at left tackle. Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk, Utah’s Garett Bolles, and Pittsburgh’s Adam Bisnowaty are among the other OTs who could potentially come off the board on Day 1. For what it’s worth, one scout recently told Matt Miller of Bleacher Report that Bolles is set to “shoot up” draft boards, and potentially overtake Robinson as the No. 1 tackle available.

Nov 30, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth (77) blocks against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers could also take a dip into free agency in its search for a new left tackle, a plan that isn’t out of the question given that the club is still very much in win-now mode. Still, given that options like Matt Kalil and Sebastian Vollmer wouldn’t represent an upgrade over Oher, Carolina would essentially be limited to two free agents: Andrew Whitworth or Riley Reiff. The Bengals likely want to re-sign Whitworth, but given that Cincinnati recently spent two high picks on tackles, a reunion is no sure thing. Whitworth has made it clear that he wants to remain at left tackle, and as Pro Football Focus‘ No. 2 rated tackle, he’d signify an improvement over Oher. Reiff, meanwhile, spent 2016 on the right side after the Lions drafted Taylor Decker, but he’d presumably relish an opportunity to move back to the blindside.

The interior of Carolina’s offensive line could also be addressed this offseason in the form of extensions, as guards Andrew Norwell and Trai Turner are heading into the final seasons of their rookie deals (Norwell is a restricted free agent and will be offered a tender). It’s unclear whether the Panthers will be able to retain both guards, or will even feel the need to do so — after all, Turner was a third-round choice while Norwell was an undrafted free agent, so perhaps the club is confident in its ability to unearth low-cost interior line talent. From the players’ point of view, Norwell and Turner may want to wait until free agents such as Kevin Zeitler and T.J. Lang set the guard market this spring before beginning negotiations.

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2017 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.Donte Moncrief (Vertical)

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $1.8MM in 2017. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2017 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

49ers: Aaron Lynch, LB; Marcus Martin, OL

Bears: Charles Leno, T; Will Sutton, DT

Bengals: Russell Bodine, C

Bills: Preston Brown, LB; Seantrel Henderson, T

Broncos: Michael Schofield, OL

Browns: Christian Kirksey, LB

Buccaneers: Kevin Pamphile, G

Cardinals: John Brown, WR

Chiefs: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, G; Zach Fulton, G; Phillip Gaines, CB

Colts: Donte Moncrief, WR

Cowboys: Anthony Hitchens, LB

Falcons: Devonta Freeman, RB

Giants: Devon Kennard, LB

Jaguars: Aaron Colvin, CB; Brandon Linder, G; Telvin Smith, LB

Lions: Nevin Lawson, CB; Travis Swanson, C

Packers: Corey Linsley, C; Richard Rodgers, TE

Panthers: Tre Boston, S; Trai Turner, G

Raiders: T.J. Carrie, CB; Justin Ellis, DT; Gabe Jackson, G

Rams: Maurice Alexander, S; E.J. Gaines, CB

Redskins: Bashaud Breeland, CB; Spencer Long, G; Morgan Moses, T

Texans: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE; Andre Hal, S

Titans: DaQuan Jones, DL; Avery Williamson, LB

Vikings: Shamar Stephen, DT

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers WRs Coach Ricky Proehl Stepping Down

  • Panthers wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl is stepping down to spend more time with his family, tweets Jordan Rodrigue of ESPN.com. The former wideout was Carolina’s receivers coach for four years.

Panthers Sign Dezmen Southward To Futures Deal

The Panthers have signed safety Dezmen Southward to a futures deal, according to Bryan Strickland of Panthers.com. Southward becomes the tenth and final player who was on Carolina’s taxi squad at the end of the season to sign a futures contract. The club has signed a total of 15 players to futures deals.

Jul 31, 2015; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons free safety Dezmen Southward (22) on the field during training camp at Flowery Branch Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When a player is signed to such a contract, it means that he is being signed for the upcoming season. Only players who are not on an active roster at the end of the season are eligible to sign futures contracts, and it allows a club to claim rights to a player before the new league year begins. Typically, players signed to futures contracts–which are generally one- or two-year deals that pay the league minimum–will be cut at some point prior to the regular season, although plenty of notable players have found success after going that route (New England’s latest playoff hero, Dion Lewis, is but one example).

Southward was selected by the Falcons in the third round of the 2014 draft, and he played in all 16 games for the club in his rookie season, notching one interception and one sack in the process. The Wisconsin product was waived midway through the 2015 season, and he spent time on the Colts’ practice squad before being waived by Indianapolis before the 2016 season opener.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.