- Both the Giants and Panthers have done plenty of work on Will Grier, La Canfora adds. The West Virginia passer profiles as someone who could be available in Round 2. New York holds pick No. 37, Carolina No. 47. This is the latest we’ve heard on the Panthers’ interest in Grier. Although Carolina brass has reportedly not done more research than usual on quarterbacks in preparing for this draft, Cam Newton has not resumed throwing and is going through extensive shoulder rehab in a second offseason in three years.
- Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said QB Cam Newton has gotten a lot of his range of motion back, and while Newton hasn’t resumed throwing yet, that time is coming (via Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer). However, Rivera stopped shy of giving a timetable for Newton’s return.
- As Rodrigue writes, the Panthers have been taking a look at this year’s collegiate passers, which has sparked some concern about Newton’s status. But Rivera and GM Marty Hurney downplayed the meaning of their QB scouting, and Rivera said, “I don’t think we’ve spent any more time on quarterbacks (this year) than we have in the past.” Rodrigue says the club remains optimistic about Newton’s progress, and while the Panthers could select a quarterback if the right player falls to them, they are not going to reach for one, and they are going to keep their focus on reviving the pass rush and bolstering the O-line.
The Panthers have converted $9.05MM of star linebacker Luke Kuechly‘s 2019 salary into a bonus, per ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter). The move will create an additional $7.24MM of cap space, which is quite significant given that Carolina was only operating with about $1.34MM in cap room prior to the restructure.
This marks the second year in a row that the Panthers have given Kuechly cash upfront in order to create cap space, which can be a dangerous strategy. But Kuechly, who will turn 28 in two days, remains one of the best linebackers in the league and is coming off his fifth First Team All-Pro bid. Considering his importance to the team both now and for the foreseeable future, these reworkings are likely not too difficult for Carolina to stomach.
The team now has some much-needed flexibility heading into next week’s draft, and their newfound cap space will allow the Panthers to re-enter the free agent market should they be unable to fill their remaining needs with collegiate prospects. Plus, their release of Matt Kalil earlier this offseason will add another $7.25MM to their coffers once the calendar flips to June 1.
Kuechly is under contract through 2021.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Florida offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor met with the Bengals on Tuesday, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Taylor, who stands 6’5″ and 328 pounds, certainly has the size requirements favored by new Cincinnati offensive line coach Jim Turner, but it’s unclear if the ex-Gator will be available when the Bengals make their first-round selection at No. 11. Along with Jonah Williams (Alabama), Andre Dillard (Washington State), and Cody Ford (Oklahoma), Taylor is considered one of the best tackle prospects available in the 2019 draft. If selected by the Bengals, Taylor could immediately take over at right tackle, displacing the recently re-signed Bobby Hart, and would be a long-term option to replace Cordy Glenn on the blindside.
Here’s more on the 2019 NFL draft:
- Speaking of Ford, the Oklahoma offensive lineman has been extremely busy during the pre-draft season. Per Aaron Wilson the Houston Chronicle, Ford has met with and/or worked out for the Patriots, Eagles, Buccaneers, Vikings, Texans, Cardinals, and Falcons. That’s in addition to his previously-reported stops with the Bengals and Panthers. Ford was a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2018 and helped Oklahoma win the Joe Moore Award, given to the country’s best offensive line. A left guard in both 2016 and 2017, Ford shifted to right tackle for the 2018 campaign.
- The Texans are meeting with Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat on Wednesday, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Sweat is considered of the best defensive ends in the draft (especially after blowing up the combine), so Houston would likely need to trade up from No. 23 overall in order to land him. After starting his collegiate career at Michigan State, Sweat spent two years with the Bulldogs, racking up 22.5 sacks and 30 tackles for loss during that time.
- Washington cornerback Byron Murphy has met with the Panthers, Chiefs, and Cardinals in addition to his visit with the Steelers, tweets Wilson. In 2018, Murphy earned a spot on the first-team All-Pac-12 list after putting up 37 tackles, four interceptions, and 13 interceptions. Regarded as a first-round pick by most observers, Murphy is the No. 6 overall player on Pro Football Focus’ draft board after allowing only a 47.7% completion percentage against and forcing 17 incompletions.
- The Rams hosted Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram on Tuesday, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). Abram, who has also met with the Cowboys and Cardinals, is part of a closely-clustered safety class that could start coming off the board at the end of the first round. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com, notably, ranks Abram as the No. 1 safety prospect of 2019. Arbam posted two interceptions, three sacks, and nine tackles for loss last year.
The 49ers will host Ole Miss wide receiver A.J. Brown and South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel on Monday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Neither player is in the mix for the Niners at No. 2 overall, but both could be an option further down the line.
Right now, it seems likely that Brown will be a first rounder, making him unlikely to be available when the 49ers pick again at No. 36 overall. Still, crazier things have happened and the Niners could always trade up if they want Brown badly enough. Samuel, meanwhile, seems to be right in range for that pick. After watching Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham head elsewhere this offseason, the Niners are undoubtedly in the hunt for receiver help in the draft.
Here’s the latest draft buzz:
- Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford will meet with the Panthers on Tuesday, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. This marks Ford’s ninth and final visit, and five of those teams pick between No. 11 and 20. With that in mind, it’s fair to wonder whether Ford will be available for Carolina at No. 16 overall.
- Washington safety Taylor Rapp – widely pegged as a late-first round or second round prospect, will also visit the Panthers on Tuesday, according to Rapoport. Rapp also recently met with the Seahawks.
- West Virginia quarterback Will Grier and Ohio State wide receiver Parris Campbell are visiting the Redskins, Rapoport tweets. Grier figures to be available in the middle rounds, but the Redskins will probably have to pounce in the second round if they want Campbell.
Midway through a rather notable offseason, given the recent behind-the-curtain look at their previous power structure, the Packers are investigating some high-end quarterback prospects. They are obviously set at sports’ marquee position, but with Aaron Rodgers set to turn 36 by season’s end, Green Bay is at a similar point compared to when it last made a major quarterback investment. The Packers will host Drew Lock on a visit Tuesday, Terez Paylor of Yahoo.com reports (on Twitter). They also tried to set up a summit with Daniel Jones, but the parties’ schedules did not line up, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds (via Twitter). The Packers took Rodgers when Brett Favre was 36 and sat him for three years. While Green Bay pulling the trigger on a passer would be rather surprising, especially given Rodgers’ contract status, the team does have two first-round picks this year.
Here is the latest from the draft world, staying on the subject of quarterbacks:
- Lock will also meet with the Chargers, per Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com (on Twitter). Teams have ramped up their signal-caller-related preparation, in the event Kyler Murray does not go No. 1, according to Robinson, who notes some teams believe this year’s passers could slide a bit should Murray not be the Cardinals’ choice atop the draft. Some modest steam picked up on this notion earlier Monday.
- The Dolphins, who already met with Jones, will head to the Duke campus to work out the former Blue Devil starter, Rapoport reports (on Twitter). Teams only have a few more days to host prospects on “30” visits but can still work them out after that deadline passes. Miami will also host Michigan linebacker Devin Bush and Florida tackle Jawaan Taylor, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.
- Devin White‘s stock has risen during the pre-draft process, to the point he may be the rare off-ball linebacker to be picked in the top five. One of the teams holding such a selection, the Raiders, brought in White for a visit, Rapoport tweets. The Buccaneers, who hold pick No. 5, have been closely connected to the LSU ‘backer. The Raiders have the No. 4 overall pick. Oakland, which also holds the Nos. 24 and 27 selections, will meet with tight end Noah Fant, on Monday as well, Rapoport tweets. The Raiders lost their starting tight end of the past two seasons, Jared Cook, in free agency.
- For weeks, the Jets have been viewed as a team that would love to trade down. They are meeting with a prospect Tuesday that would support the fact this is a consideration. Ed Oliver will visit the Jets, per Schefter (on Twitter). While the defensive tackle is a surefire first-round talent, he has not been mocked as a player who would be a consideration at No. 3 overall.
- The Titans are visiting with defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, per Rapoport (on Twitter). This is the Notre Dame-developed defender’s second known visit, the first having come with the Saints recently. Tillery remains in rehab after surgery to repair a torn shoulder labrum.
- Not much has surfaced about which teams are researching an Andre Dillard pick. That has changed. The Washington State tackle prospect is visiting the Falcons on Monday and will meet with the Chargers later this week, Schefter tweets. Additionally, Schefter adds the first-round offensive line hopeful has already visited or worked out for a host of teams — the Giants, Jets, Dolphins, Ravens, Titans, Panthers, Vikings, Jaguars, Bills, Texans, Bengals, Packers, Redskins.
The Panthers have re-signed defensive tackle Kyle Love to a one-year deal, Carolina announced Monday.
Love was part of a four-man defensive tackle rotation for the Panthers in 2018, playing 468 snaps while appearing in all 16 games. Kawann Short, Dontari Poe, Vernon Butler, and Love all played between 33% and 59% of Carolina’s defensive snaps a season ago, and all four are set to return next year.
Love, 32, entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi State in 2010. He spent three seasons with the Patriots, appearing in 41 total games, before he was waived with a non-football illness designation after being diagnosed with diabetes. Love played in only three contests from 2013-14 while playing for the Chiefs, Jaguars, and Panthers, but he’s since reestablished his career with the Carolina, totaling 57 games since 2015.
Last offseason, Love re-signed with the Panthers on a two-year, $2.2MM deal that contained $200K in guaranteed money.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Giants‘ meeting with Kyler Murray got all of the headlines, but the Oklahoma quarterback wasn’t the only big-name prospect to get face time with the club on Thursday. The Giants also hosted Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary and Kentucky pass-rusher Josh Allen, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears.
At this rate, it would be a surprise if Murray is available for either of the Giants’ first-round picks at No. 6 and No. 17. However, Gary and Allen could be in range for a team that is said to be prioritizing pass-rushing. Allen would represent the safer bet based on his college production, but that also means that he could be gone by the time the Giants take the podium. Gary, who boasts serious raw skills, should last a bit longer after tallying just 3.5 sacks last season.
Here’s the latest NFL Draft buzz:
- Florida offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor will visit the Panthers on Friday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Taylor, a 6’5″ lineman, could project as either a right tackle or guard at the next level, which could be helpful for a team that has overhauled its O-Line this offseason.
- The Bills are set to meet with Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, as Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets. Unfortunately for Buffalo, Williams is unlikely to be around at No. 9 overall, so they’ll probably have to trade up in order to land him. Recently, Williams met with New York’s other two teams.
- The Bears will huddle up with Alabama running back Josh Jacobs, the team announced. Jacobs is widely rated as the best three-down back in this year’s class, but he does not offer the same kind of upside as last year’s top-drafted RB Saquon Barkley. Still, the Bears will have to get creative if they want to land Jacobs – Thanks to the Khalil Mack trade and last year’s move up for wide receiver Anthony Miller, the Bears won’t be on the board until the third round (No. 87 overall).
- The Bills hosted an interesting mid-round prospect in Buffalo QB Tyree Jackson (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). Jackson could be a natural fit for the Bills as his size and athleticism mirrors that of QB Josh Allen.
The Panthers signed former Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan to a one-year deal, according to a team announcement. Hogan will give the Panthers additional veteran experience in the WR group alongside fellow 30-year-old Torrey Smith. Mike Reiss of ESPN.com hears that Hogan will earn a $300K signing bonus and that the contract is worth a maximum of $2MM. Reiss notes that those are very modest numbers considering what Hogan was asking for in extension talks with New England last year.
Last year, Hogan hauled in 35 catches for 532 yards and three touchdowns for the Pats. Those numbers don’t exactly jump off of the page, but he did impress in 2016 when he had 680 yards and four touchdowns with a league-leading 17.9 yards per reception.
Despite the regression in production, and the shoulder injury that held him back in 2017 regular season, Hogan broke out in the Pats’ Super Bowl loss to the Eagles as he caught six passes for 128 yards and a touchdown. He also made an impact in the Pats’ AFC Championship Game win over the Chiefs in January as he caught five balls for 45 yards.
We didn’t hear a whole lot of chatter about a new deal between the Pats and Hogan this offseason. However, he did draw interest from the Giants at one point in March.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Today’s minor moves:
- Re-signed: DE Eddie Yarbrough (ERFA)
- Waived: G Parker Ehinger, DT Aziz Shittu
Green Bay Packers
- Re-signed: TE Robert Tonyan (ERFA)
- Signed: S Cody Brown (AAF)
Los Angeles Rams
- Signed: QB John Wolford (AAF)
- Signed: LB Greer Martini (AAF)
New York Jets
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Signed: S Orion Stewart (AAF)