Panthers, G Damien Lewis Agree To Terms

The Panthers and Rams are in a guard battle, with the bulk of the high-end payments at this position going to Carolina or Los Angeles this week. The NFC South club struck again Monday night.

Four-year Seahawks starter Damien Lewis is heading to Charlotte, Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz reports. The former third-round pick has a four-year, $53MM deal in place with Carolina. After adding Robert Hunt on a monster accord, the Panthers are not stopping there. The team will give the ex-Seattle regular $26.2MM fully guaranteed,’s Ian Rapoport tweets.

Rostering the NFL’s shortest starting quarterback in Bryce Young, the Panthers’ new coaching staff will equip the team’s 2023 top pick with two proven starters. Lewis’ guard starter tenure ran longer than Hunt’s, with the Seahawks putting the former to work from the jump in 2020.

The bevy of guards on PFR’s top 50 free agents list are snapped up. This includes Michael Onwenu, the guard/tackle whom the Patriots re-signed this evening. The Panthers will come away with two of them. Hunt scored the fourth-highest AAV in guard history ($20MM), while Lewis will settle in just north of $13MM. Rumored to be pursuing guards in free agency, Carolina was quite serious about upgrading to better protect its 5-foot-10 quarterback.

Lewis has a history with Dave Canales, to a degree. The new Panthers HC was on the Seahawks’ staff from 2010-21, overlapping as an offensive assistant in Lewis’ first two Seattle seasons. Carolina’s new staff will ask the 26-year-old blocker to keep up his pace and help Young improve in 2024. The Panthers already have an upper-crust tackle payment (for Taylor Moton) on their books, but they cut center Bradley Bozeman and have LT Ikem Ekwonu on a rookie deal.

As the Seahawks became the third team since the 1970 merger to start two rookie tackles (in 2022), Lewis stood as a dependable guard option. While not garnering the attention Hunt, Onwenu and Jonah Jackson did entering free agency, the LSU alum comes away with a nice payday as many teams searched for upgrades here. Lewis started all 61 games he played as a Seahawk, ranking fourth in ESPN’s run block win rate metric in 2022. While his Pro Football Focus ratings yo-yoed, Lewis certainly played a role in Geno Smith‘s surprising re-emergence over the past two seasons. The Panthers will hope he can boost Young soon.

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