Panthers Claim RB Royce Freeman

Royce Freeman did not make it out of the top 10 on the waiver wire, going to the team that picked just ahead of the Broncos in this past draft. The Panthers claimed Freeman on Thursday, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

The ex-Bronco is joining Christian McCaffrey and rookie Chuba Hubbard at running back on Carolina’s active roster. The Panthers are cutting veteran back Trenton Cannon to clear a roster spot for Freeman, David Newton of ESPN.com notes.

Denver waived Freeman on Wednesday, making room for rookie UDFA running back Nate McCrary. The Broncos added Mike Boone and second-round pick Javonte Williams this offseason. With Melvin Gordon‘s guarantees remaining intact after DUI charges were dismissed, Freeman faced an uphill climb to carve out a role in Denver this year.

The former third-round pick will provide the Panthers with considerable experience behind McCaffrey. A four-year Oregon contributor, Freeman totaled 297 career carries for 1,187 yards and eight touchdowns with the Broncos. The 225-pound back mostly worked as the ball-carrying B-side to Phillip Lindsay in Denver but was not much of a factor last year, with Gordon in town.

Mike Davis‘ departure for Atlanta left an experience void behind McCaffrey, and considering the dual-threat standout missed most of last season, adding depth could be critical for Carolina — especially as the schedule expands to 17 games. One year remains on Freeman’s rookie contract.

Also a 2018 draftee, Cannon spent last season with the Panthers and contributed mostly as a kick returner. Cannon spent his first two seasons with the Jets. The Virginia State alum would be eligible for Carolina’s practice squad, should he pass through waivers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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