Panthers Claim CB Shaquill Griffin

Shaquill Griffin did not make it past team No. 1 on the waiver wire. Despite the veteran cornerback sitting in free agency for nearly two months between his Jaguars and Texans stays, he generated immediate interest after Houston waived him Wednesday.

The Panthers will use their top waiver priority to claim Griffin, the team announced Thursday. This will mark a return to the NFC for the former Seahawks starter. This is Griffin’s third team this year. In 10 Texans games, the seventh-year defender made six starts. But Houston’s depth improving led the resurgent team to cut bait.

This year has brought an undeniable fall for Griffin, who was one of the top defensive free agents in 2021. The Jaguars gave him a three-year, $40MM contract. A back injury in 2022 led to Griffin being a cap casualty after the season, as no guaranteed money remained on the deal for 2023. It took until May for Griffin to find another home, via a one-year deal worth $3.5MM in Houston, but he made some notable contributions during the Texans’ 6-5 start. The Panthers will be responsible for the remaining $529K of Griffin’s base salary.

Pro Football Focus ranks Griffin 52nd among corners, a middle-of-the-pack placement after his injury-marred 2022. With Derek Stingley Jr. and multiple slot cornerbacks suffering injuries early in the season, the Texans turned to their mid-offseason pickup as a starter. Griffin intercepted a Joe Burrow pass to help the Texans complete an upset victory. With Stingley activated from IR following that game, the Texans demoted Griffin to a special-teamer. He has not played a defensive snap since that Week 10 win over the Bengals.

For his career, Griffin has made 78 starts. Most of them came in Seattle, where the former third-round pick became a regular as the NFC West squad moved on from Richard Sherman. The Seahawks have not shown a penchant, aside from Sherman’s 2014 extension, to give cornerbacks second contracts. Many Pete Carroll-era cogs have moved on; Griffin did so after earning a Pro Bowl invite in 2019 and intercepting three passes in 2020. The 28-year-old defender will have another chance this season — albeit on the NFL’s worst team.

Centering their corner situation on Jaycee Horn, the Panthers are still waiting for the former No. 8 overall pick to break through. Injuries have hounded the South Carolina alum, who has been out since Week 1 with a severe hamstring injury. The Panthers designated Horn for return recently and have until Monday to activate him. The team could activate Horn and keep him inactive, in order to keep the door open for a late-season return. But Griffin will provide some veteran insurance alongside Donte Jackson and C.J. Henderson.

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