The Panthers’ recent trade for quarterback Sam Darnold certainly rates as one of the biggest splashes of the offseason, and now the team has turned its attention back to the defensive side of the ball. As Joe Person of The Athletic reports (via Twitter), Carolina has agreed to terms with free agent corner A.J. Bouye. Mike Klis of 9News.com first reported that the two sides were nearing a deal (Twitter link).
The Panthers were a middle-of-the-road outfit in terms of total defense in 2020, and this offseason, new GM Scott Fitterer has brought in Haason Reddick and Morgan Fox to reinforce the pass rush and Denzel Perryman to anchor the middle of the LB corps. Fitterer also inked cornerback Rashaan Melvin to a modest one-year pact, but Bouye is a superior talent if he can himself back on track.
A former UDFA, Bouye became a strong, starting-caliber CB in Houston and parlayed that success into a five-year, $67.5MM contract with the Jaguars in March 2017. He earned his first and only Pro Bowl nod following the 2017 season, a campaign in which he teamed with Jalen Ramsey to form a fearsome cornerback tandem. He picked off six passes that year — which nearly culminated in a Super Bowl appearance — but Jacksonville slipped in the subsequent seasons and elected to trade Bouye to the Broncos last March as part of its rebuilding efforts.
He suffered a dislocated shoulder in Week 1 of the 2020 season and landed on IR, and though he ended up playing in (and starting) seven games, he was hit with a six-game PED suspension in December. He will miss the first two games of 2021 as a result of the ban, and Denver released him earlier this year.
Still, the 29-year-old (30 in August) would be a high-ceiling veteran addition to a CB group currently fronted by youngsters Donte Jackson and Troy Pride Jr. Other than the Panthers, the only team that had reportedly expressed interest in Bouye following his release was the Raiders.
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