Panthers Rumors

Kaepernick Lawyer Predicts A Team Will Sign QB Soon

After reaching a settlement with the NFL on his collusion case earlier this week, Colin Kaepernick could be nearing a return to the league, his lawyer Mark Geragos said in an interview on CNN, Mike Freeman of Bleacher Reports tweets

“I think you’re going to see within the next two weeks someone is going to step up.”

In addition to making that statement, he mentioned that three teams could have interest, namely the Panthers. Whether he is speaking from knowledge of the situation, which he obviously has, or just making the claim, is unknown at this moment.

The Panthers are a natural landing spot for the former 49ers quarterback, who possesses a similar skill set to Cam Newton and would be playing for a team that just gave Eric Reid a three-year contract. Reid, of course, was a part of the same collusion case against the NFL.

In the past, Geragos has also mentioned the Patriots as a potential landing spot. Of course, any team that does sign the polarizing figure could withstand a backlash from a section of fans who do not agree with Kaepernick’s protest. If any team could do it, it would be the Patriots.

Again, as far as fits go, the Panthers would make the most sense. The offense wouldn’t have to change if Newton, who has been dealing with nagging injuries over the last year, has to leave the game. The mobile Kaepernick obviously boasts a different skill set than the statuesque Tom Brady. Also, in recent years New England has opted for a traditional pocket passer as its backup like Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett and Brian Hoyer rather than a dual-threat.

Recently, it was reported the quarterback was contacted by the upstart AAF about a potential gig but he decided not to sign with the league.

We will see in the coming days if there is anything to Geragos’ comments or if it is just conjecture.

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Ben Jacobs Joins Panthers' Staff

  • Ben Jacobsearly-offseason release will not lead to the longtime special-teamer catching on elsewhere. The former Panthers linebacker will instead take a staff position with Carolina, the franchise announced. Jacobs is the Panthers’ new assistant special teams coach. Jacobs, 30, spent six years with the Panthers, serving as a core member of Carolina’s ST units for most of that time. He will work under fellow former Panthers linebacker Chase Blackburn.
  • The Panthers will be the latest team to bring in a game management coach. Sam Mills III, son of the former Panthers and Saints linebacker, will begin working in this role, the team announced. A 15th-year Panthers staffer, Mills will retain his defensive line coach title while helping Ron Rivera on game days with replay challenges, clock management and other situational elements.

Contract Details: Hunt, Reid

Two teams made big contract decisions on Monday. The Browns added Kareem Hunt before most expected the embattled running back to sign, and the Panthers made sure Eric Reid would not hit the market again after he stayed in free agency for six months in 2018. Here are the details of those deals:

  • Reid signed a three-year deal worth $21.7MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, adding that the contract includes $10MM in total guarantees and a $7.5MM signing bonus. Reid, who played for a $1MM base salary in 2018, has $9MM in full guarantees coming his way on his second Panthers contract, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com adds (via Twitter). All of those guarantees will be paid out in 2019; there is no guaranteed money on this deal due after this year. There are $1.95MM worth of incentives in the safety’s agreement, which can max out at $23.65MM.
  • Hunt signed a one-year contract worth the league minimum with the Browns, with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports noting (on Twitter) the deal could max out beyond $1MM if certain incentives are met. There are no guarantees included, but Rapoport adds (via Twitter) per-game roster bonuses and workout bonuses are present in this deal.

Panthers To Release LB Ben Jacobs

Ben Jacobs played on the past five Panthers teams, but the franchise will go in another direction. The Panthers plan to release the veteran linebacker, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

The Panthers signed Jacobs to a two-year deal in 2017. He played out that contract and was set for free agency in March. But this move will give the longtime special-teamer a chance to sign with a team in advance of the higher-profile signing period.

A former UDFA out of Fresno State, Jacobs caught on with the Panthers in 2013 and spent time on their practice squad before rising to the active roster. He has played in 16 games in four of the past five seasons, suiting up for six playoff contests as well.

Carolina will be moving on from Thomas Davis as well, per Davis, so the team may need to address its linebacker depth this offseason. However, the team did draft Jermaine Carter and Andre Smith on Day 3 of the 2018 draft. That helps explain allowing Jacobs to seek opportunities elsewhere.

If Jacobs opts against catching on with another team, or is unable to do so, the Panthers may be eyeing him for a coaching role, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Re-Sign S Eric Reid

The Panthers have re-signed safety Eric Reid through the 2021 campaign, the club announced today. Reid’s new three-year deal is worth more than $22MM, and contains incentives that could raise the total value of $24MM, according to Mike Silver of NFL.com.

Reid, 27, was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next month, but he’ll stay in Carolina without ever testing the open market. That Reid avoided free agency altogether could be a product of his experience last year, when he wasn’t signed until the end of September. The free agent market for safeties was stagnant last offseason, with multiple veteran defensive backs having to settle for single-season pacts, but Reid’s national anthem protests also likely played a role in his unemployment.

Before landing with the Panthers, Reid took a visit with the Bengals, but subsequently filed a grievance after Cincinnati questioned him about his kneeling during the anthem. He was also linked to vacancies with the Titans and Falcons, but neither club ever seriously pursued him. Reid’s one-year deal with Carolina was worth $1.39MM and had a maximum value of $2MM.

In his first season with the Panthers, the 27-year-old Reid appeared in 13 games (all starts) while posting 71 tackles, five passes defensed, one interception, and one sack. Pro Football Focus graded Reid as the NFL’s No. 55 safety among 93 qualifiers. Next year, he’s likely to play alongside Da’Norris Searcy in Carolina’s secondary, unless Mike Adams — who played more than 90% of the Panthers’ defensive snaps a year ago — is re-signed.

Although Reid is now off the board, the 2019 free agent safety market still boasts a number of intriguing options. Veterans such as Earl Thomas, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Landon Collins, Adrian Amos, Tre Boston, Lamarcus Joyner, Tyrann Mathieu, and Kenny Vaccaro are all projected to reach free agency next month.

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Panthers Hire Everette Brown

  • Former Panthers pass-rusher Everette Brown has re-joined the club as assistant linebackers coach, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.com. Carolina selected Brown with the 43rd pick of the 2009 draft, but he collected only six sacks over two seasons before being released. Brown, now 31 years old, subsequently spent time with the Chargers, Lions, Eagles, Cowboys, Redskins, and Browns, but played in only 16 more games after leaving the Panthers. He served as a coaching intern for Carolina last summer.

Update On Cam Newton

  • Speaking of quarterbacks, the Panthers are apparently quite optimistic about Cam Newton‘s recovery from his latest shoulder surgery, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). We heard earlier that the team was hoping Newton would be ready for training camp, but that they’d take it easy with him this Spring. Pelissero now reports that the team believes he could even be well enough recovered to participate in some capacity in Carolina’s OTA sessions in a few months. Pelissero also clarified that there was no structural damage to Newton’s shoulder, and that the Panthers believe the issues that prevented him from pushing the ball deep down the field should now be completely gone next season.

Latest On Cam Newton

Panthers’ Julius Peppers Retires From NFL

Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers announced his retirement from football on Friday morning. The 39-year-old is hanging ’em up after 17 seasons in the league. 

Peppers leaves the game after a storied career and the fourth-most sacks in NFL history. Many thought Peppers would have continued to play for at least another season to jump to third on the all-time list – his 159.5 sack total is just half a sack behind Kevin Greene.

Anybody who knows me knows I’m not big on words and I don’t like to put myself out there, so I’m just gonna get right to it,” Peppers wrote in a piece for The Players’ Tribune. “Seventeen years is a long time to be playing this game. It’s two careers for a lot of people. I’m thankful that I have been able to play so long and still be healthy. I’m not all banged up and beaten down. I still feel good. But as much as I would love to play forever, I know that I can’t. It’s gotta end at some point. That point is now. Today, I’m retiring.”

The UNC product was a star from the get-go as he tallied 12 sacks in 12 games as a rookie. He spent his first eight years in the league with the Panthers, but when the two sides couldn’t agree to terms on a new deal in 2010, he joined up with the Bears on a six-year, $91.5MM deal. Later, he hooked on with the Packers before returning home to Carolina in 2017.

In getting to know Julius over these past months, I’ve learned that he is a man of few words. When he speaks, everyone listens. With that in mind, I will be brief. He’s one of the best to ever wear a Carolina uniform,” new Panthers owner David Tepper said in a statement released by the team. “He carries himself with dignity, integrity and class, and will always be a Panther.”

Peppers was hoping for something better than back-to-back 7-9 seasons to wrap up his career, but he came full circle nonetheless and excelled on a personal level. He notched eleven sacks in ’17 and was still productive last season with five QB takedowns. According to Pro Football Focus, Peppers graded out as the No. 21 DE in the NFL last year (tied with Ryan Kerrigan and Michael Bennett).

We here at PFR wish Peppers the best in retirement.

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Cam Newton Expected To Be Ready For Training Camp

New Panthers owner David Tepper sparked panic among the team’s fanbase when he compared Cam Newton‘s shoulder situation to Andrew Luck‘s, and seemed to hint that Newton could miss the entire 2019 season. Less than a week later, it was announced that Newton underwent another shoulder surgery.

That only increased the uncertainty surrounding his status, but Panthers fans got some good news today. Newton is recovering well, and the Panthers’ coaching staff is “optimistic that Newton will fully rehabilitated by training camp”, according to Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. Rodrigue had head coach Ron Rivera speaking on the record, and he sounded fairly confident that Newton isn’t in any danger of missing any regular season time.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network followed up with a tweet pointing out that the “surgery was not to his rotator cuff like last year’s was”, so it wasn’t necessarily an aggravation of the previous injury. In Rodrigue’s piece, which is worth a read, Rivera details how Newton was dealing with crippling pain the second half of the season that significantly limited his range of motion in his arm and hurt his accuracy.

It doesn’t sound like a Luck situation is going to play out, and while Rodrigue notes that the team plans to take it easy with Newton this spring, we should see him at close to full speed this summer. Rivera said Newton has already shown “marked improvement” and that “he has gotten a lot of range of motion back.” The Panthers started the year 6-2, but everything went downhill when Newton popped up on the injury report with his shoulder issue. The team went 1-7 the rest of the way, and Newton was shut down for the final two games of the season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.