Panthers Rumors

Panthers To Work Out Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will try out for the Panthers during their minicamp this week (Twitter link via PFT). The veteran safety missed all of 2020, but he could be an interesting addition to Carolina’s secondary.

Clinton-Dix is best known for his time with the Packers. The 2014 first-round pick earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2016 with 80 tackles, five interceptions, and seven passes defended. Midway through 2018, he was traded to Washington where he didn’t make a ton of noise in his nine starts. In 2019, he joined up with the Bears, starting in all 16 games and notching 78 tackles with two interceptions.

Last year, was set to play for the Cowboys on a one-year, $3.75MM deal. However, after earning more than $2MM in guaranteed money, the safety missed the final cut. Since then, Clinton-Dix has been working out on his own and waiting for his next opportunity. His May audition for the Texans didn’t produce a contract, but this week’s workout with the Panthers could be his ticket back to the field.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Executive Leaving Organization

One of Matt Rhule‘s right-hand men is leaving the Panthers. Joseph Person of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that vice president of football operations Sean Padden has left the organization “to pursue other opportunities.”

Padden had worked alongside Rhule since 1998 when the two were at Albright College (h/t to Charean Williams). The duo moved on to Temple starting in 2013, and they later joined Baylor, where Padden served as the Associate Athletic Director for Football Operations. When Rhule was hired as the Panthers new head coach in 2020, Padden soon followed.

The Panthers made another front office move today, promoting Mike Anderson to director of football operations. The executive had previously served as the Panthers assistant director of operations, and he’s been with the organization since 2010. He’ll be taking over the role previous held by Bryan Porter.

Panthers Waive QB Tommy Stevens

Tommy Stevens brief stint with the Panthers has come to an end. The team announced that they’ve waived the quarterback. The team signed rookie wideout C.J. Saunders to take the open roster spot.

Stevens was in and out of the lineup during his time at Penn State and Mississippi State, but he showed promise both with his arm and on the ground. Thanks to that potential, he was drafted by the Saints in the seventh round of the 2020 draft…but the team made the bold decision of switching him to tight end. He didn’t end up making New Orleans active roster, but he did stick around their practice squad for most of the campaign.

He later caught on with the Panthers (as a quarterback), and he ended up making his NFL debut in Carolina’s Week 17 loss to the Saints. Stevens got four carries in that game for 24 rushing yards.

With the move, the Panthers are now rostering three quarterbacks: Sam Darnold, P.J. Walker, and Will Grier.

Saunders was a former walk-on cornerback at Ohio State, but he ended up transforming into one of the team’s most reliable receivers. He had 27 receptions in two seasons at Ohio State, and he was named a captain in 2019 before succumbing to an injury. He spent rookie minicamp with the Falcons organization.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Wanted Justin Fields At No. 8

Recently, the Panthers shared a behind-the-scenes look at the 2021 NFL Draft, which showed the Vikings calling on their No. 8 overall pick. Ultimately, the offer wasn’t up to snuff. But, had the Panthers said yes, the Vikings would have selected Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields (via PFT).

The Vikings were connected to Fields in the weeks leading up to the draft, hoping that he’d fall to No. 14 overall. Now, we know that they were proactive in trying to land him. It’s an interesting footnote, especially given the presence of Kirk Cousins. Cousins has two years and $56MM to go on his deal; Fields could have prompted them to trade the veteran sometime between now and the end of the pact.

The Vikings offered up their No. 14 pick, their third-round choice at No. 90, and a fourth-round pick to jump to No. 8. Panthers GM Scott Fitterer wanted a 2022 first-round pick in order to move down, so the talks didn’t progress from there. Instead, the Vikings moved down to No. 23, tapped Virginia Tech tackle Christian Darrisaw, and added to their third-round stockpile. That’s where they selected Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond, who could be groomed as an eventual successor to Cousins.

Kirk Cousins is our quarterback,” GM Rick Spielman said in March. “I know there’s a lot of rumors floating around out there, but Kirk Cousins is our quarterback. We felt that he played very well, probably the best that he’s ever played down that stretch last year. Kirk is our quarterback going forward, and I look forward to him (having) another year in this system.”

Cousins is indeed the Vikings quarterback, but it’s worth nothing that his contract no longer includes a no-trade clause. Meanwhile, the Vikings will see Fields twice per year when they face the Bears.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/26/21

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Green Bay Packers

Los Angeles Rams

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

  • Signed: OL Christian DiLauro

Panthers Sign DT Caraun Reid

Caraun Reid will receive an opportunity in yet another city. The Panthers are signing the veteran defensive tackle, bringing him aboard Monday. To make room on its roster, Carolina waived linebacker Chris Orr.

A veteran of seven NFL teams since coming into the league in 2014, the veteran defensive lineman will have a chance to accomplish a rare NFL feat. Should he make the Panthers’ 53-man roster, Reid will have played for six teams in the past six years.

Reid, 29, spent the 2020 season bouncing on and off the Jaguars’ active roster. He played in seven games with Jacksonville last season — all as a backup. He started three games for the 2019 Cardinals and played for the Cowboys, Lions and Chargers in the three years prior. Reid also spent time with the Colts and Washington but never saw regular-season action with those teams. Overall, the Princeton alum has played in 54 games and started 16 since entering the league as a fifth-round pick.

Reid joins ex-Titans starter DaQuan Jones as veteran interior D-linemen to sign with the Panthers this year. Carolina also used multiple draft picks to address this position, selecting Daviyon Nixon in Round 5 and Phil Hoskins in Round 7.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Broncos, Panthers Swap Punters

It’s not everyday we get a punter trade; per ProFootballReference, there have been four trades involving punters since 1994. On May 19, 2005, we hit the jackpot of punter-centric trades, as a pair of punters were LITERALLY TRADED FOR EACH OTHER.

That’s right: on this date 16 years ago, the Panthers sent Todd Sauerbrun to the Broncos, with Denver sending Jason Baker and a future seventh-round pick to Carolina (a selection that eventually turned into defensive end Stanley McClover).

At the time, this move seemed like a clear win for Denver. Sauerbrun, a former second-round pick, earned three-straight All-Pro nods between 2001 and 2003, and he set a number of Panthers punting records during his four years with the organization. However, by 2005, the veteran had worn out his welcome in Carolina. During the 2004 campaign, he publicly complained about his contract’s weight-limit clauses, he was cited for driving under the influence, and he was investigated for allegedly receiving steroids. So, by May of 2005, it wasn’t some giant revelation that Sauerbrun was on the trade block; the team had even made it clear that they’d just cut the punter in June.

Considering the Broncos special teams struggles, they emerged as a clear suitor. However, in the days leading up to 5/19/2005, there was some doubts that a deal would get done. Sauerbrun requested that the Broncos convert some of his base salary into a signing bonus, something that stalled the trade negotiations between the two front offices. However, the two sides ultimately pulled off the transaction.

While the Broncos proceeded to go 13-3 in 2005, Sauerbrun didn’t necessarily provide the consistency they were seeking. The veteran’s 43.8 yards per punt and touch back percentage were among the worst of his career, although he somewhat redeemed himself in the postseason when he forced a fumble on an Ellis Hobbs‘ kickoff return. The punter didn’t see the field for Denver during the 2006 season, and following a two-game stint with New England, he rejoined Denver in 2007 before calling it a career.

While the Panthers let go of a Pro Bowler in the trade, they ended up acquiring a future standout in the process. After having spent time with five different teams during his first four seasons in the NFL, Baker would proceed to spend the next eight seasons in Carolina following the trade. During that time, Baker set a number of his own franchise records, including punts (570) and punting yards (25,064). Baker also briefly held the distinction of being the NFL’s highest-paid punter.

We know, we know: punters don’t elicit a whole lot of excitement. However, when it comes to punter trades (especially a punter-for-punter trade), this one is hard to bear.

NFC South Notes: Lance, Tryon, Spencer

Let’s take a look at some news and notes from the NFC South as we approach the witching hour on this Tuesday evening:

  • The Falcons were perhaps the most interesting team to watch during the first hour of last month’s draft, as they could have gone in any number of directions. Ultimately, they kept their No. 4 overall pick and selected Florida TE Kyle Pitts as part of their effort to gear up for one final run with Matt Ryan. But if the 49ers had not selected North Dakota State QB Trey Lance one pick before Atlanta, then Lance might be holding Ryan’s clipboard this year. The Falcons were represented at both of Lance’s Pro Days, and as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes, if there was a signal-caller to stop Atlanta from taking Pitts, Lance might have been it (subscription required). A source tells Fowler that Lance thought the Falcons were the club most interested in him, and after the Pro Days, NDSU coaching staff got the sense that Lance would not fall past Atlanta.
  • The final pick of the first round of this year’s draft, Joe Tryon, underwent a knee scope a few weeks ago, per Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians (Twitter link via Jenna Laine of ESPN.com). Luckily, Arians said the Washington product should be ready to go by next month’s mandatory minicamp. Tryon opted out of the 2020 collegiate season, but he was a menace in 2019, racking up eight sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. He should provide even more firepower to Tampa’s front seven.
  • The Panthers continue to make additions to their personnel department. Carolina has hired former Washington Football Team scout Cole Spencer as its new director of college scouting, the team announced. The Panthers hired former linebacker Dan Morgan as their assistant GM last week, and new general manager Scott Fitterer is continuing to put his stamp on the front office. Spencer had been with WFT for over a decade and was promoted to national scout in 2019.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/18/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

  • Waived: OL Najee Toran

New Orleans Saints

  • Placed on reserve/retired list: OL Alex Hoffman
  • Re-signed: S Eric Burrell

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Signed: OT Casey Tucker

Washington Football Team

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/16/21

Here are Sunday’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

  • Signed: T Evin Ksiezarczyk

Denver Broncos

  • Signed: QB Case Cookus

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

New Orleans Saints