Seeing guard injuries play a key role in their offensive struggles, the Panthers are adding a veteran presence. Following his Wednesday workout, Gabe Jackson will sign with Carolina, Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz tweets.
This agreement comes nearly nine months after the Seahawks cut the veteran blocker. Jackson has 130 career starts over a nine-year career. The Panthers have been without left guard Brady Christensen since mid-September and recently saw Austin Corbett suffer an MCL injury that will sideline the right guard for the rest of the season. This will initially be a practice squad deal, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter tweets.
The Christensen and Corbett setbacks open the door for Jackson, who is now 32. The former Raiders and Seahawks starter was not closely connected to a team during his lengthy free agency stay, but he stands as one of the NFL’s most experienced active guards. While it is far from certain Carolina will look to keep Jackson beyond this season — especially considering the reeling team will hire another new coach in 2024 — but the 1-10 squad represents an opportunity for the longtime first-stringer to play a 10th season and potentially make an effort to better position himself for free agency next year.
Although Christensen has been a multiyear starter, the Panthers had navigated his early-season exit (due to a biceps injury) for a while. But one of Carolina’s replacement options is now facing a season-ending malady. Rookie Chandler Zavala, who has been a starter for much of the season due to the Panthers losing both Christensen and Corbett, is an IR candidate, ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler tweets. Zavala, a fourth-round pick, suffered a knee injury in Week 12. Cade Mays left Sunday’s game due to an ankle injury, continuing this positional bloodbath for a team intent on maximizing what is left of Bryce Young‘s rookie year.
The Panthers have used Brett Toth as a fill-in starter; they finished Week 12 with he and rookie UDFA Nash Jensen at guard. This situation could point Jackson directly to a starting role, though given the timing here, the team may wait before such a move. That said, the Panthers have struggled to protect Young this season. While Carolina is buried in the standings and is focusing on another coaching search, the team still has six games of Young development to complete. Installing a veteran to help keep the No. 1 overall pick upright makes sense through this lens.
GM Scott Fitterer had already moved to Charlotte when the Seahawks traded for Jackson in March 2021, but the nine-year starter’s Seattle stay may still help for familiarity purposes. Upon being traded for a fifth-round pick, Jackson started 31 games in Seattle. Pro Football Focus viewed the once-dependable Raider as better in 2021 than he was last year, but given the timing of the Panthers’ latest guard need, pickings are slim.
Although Jackson has never made a Pro Bowl, the Raiders thought enough of him to authorize a $10MM-per-year extension in 2017. Jackson then played two years on a $7.5MM-AAV Seahawks pact. This Panthers agreement likely checks in at or near the prorated veteran minimum.