Panthers Rumors

Panthers To Stick With Joe Brady As Play Caller

The Panthers managed just three points in Sunday’s loss to the Giants, dropping them to 3-4 on the year. Clearly, something has to change, but head coach Matt Rhule says that he has no plans to take play-calling duties away from offensive coordinator Joe Brady (Twitter link via Joe Person of The Athletic). 

[RELATED: Panthers, Dolphins Favorites To Land Watson?]

Brady’s offense looked promising early on, thanks in part to the play of Sam Darnold. Unfortunately, the former Jets quarterback has sputtered in recent weeks He was benched in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss, though Rhule told reporters that Darnold will “be our quarterback next week.” There’s no guarantee that Darnold will be the QB after the trade deadline, however. The Panthers are said to be in pursuit of Deshaun Watson and they could potentially outbid the Dolphins.

Brady’s offense would be in better shape with Christian McCaffrey, but he’s still on IR with a hamstring injury. Meanwhile, despite all the hiccups, Brady remains a rumored candidate for the LSU vacancy.

I didn’t really have any thoughts on it,” Brady said recently (via Sports Illustrated). “I had a great experience in my time there but I was way more concerned with our performance this past Sunday and trying to find ways to improve this Sunday. All of those things, from a coaching perspective, are things that I don’t really pay a lot of attention to…I’ve got to do a better job of being the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers and that’s all I’m really concerned about right now.”

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Minor NFL Transactions: 10/25/21

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Claimed off waivers: QB Reid Sinnett (from Dolphins)
  • Waived: LS Rick Lovato

San Francisco 49ers

Panthers, Dolphins Favorites To Land Deshaun Watson? 

The Deshaun Watson sweepstakes could be down to two teams. In addition to the Dolphins, the Panthers have also presented the Texans with a strong offer, according to PFT.

The Texans would likely accept the Panthers’ latest proposal, according to PFT’s source, but Watson’s the one who really holds the cards. Thanks to his no-trade clause, he can veto any destination he doesn’t like. Fortunately for the Panthers, they’re on his short list of preferred teams, unlike the Eagles. Denver has also been said to be in the mix, but it’s shaping up to be a two-horse race and the Broncos aren’t in it at the moment.

We’ve had conflicting word on the Panthers’ level of interest all month long. Just last week, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports heard the Dolphins have effectively been bidding against themselves. Still, Watson won’t be parked on the commissioner’s exempt list if he’s traded, so it stands to reason that other teams could try and outbid the Dolphins.

And, just hours ago, head coach Matt Rhule benched Sam Darnold in the fourth quarter. After the game — a 25-3 loss to the Giants —Rhule told reporters that Darnold will “be our quarterback next week.” It remains to be seen whether he’ll be their QB come November 3rd.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Colts, Marlon Mack

Earlier this month, the Colts promised Marlon Mack that they’d try to trade him elsewhere. But, as it stands, it doesn’t sound like teams offered enough for the running back (via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). 

The Colts have received calls with reported interest from the 49ers, Panthers and Saints. However, the Niners aren’t quite as RB-needy as they were just a few weeks ago — JaMycal Hasty has been cleared to play against the Colts tonight while GM John Lynch says he’s bullish on Elijah Mitchell and Trey Sermon. Fellow RB Jeff Wilson could also return in a matter of weeks. Lynch characterized his talks with Indy as casual, given his relationship with GM Chris Ballard, but there’s little doubt that he’ll be paying attention to Mack this evening.

Prior to his Achilles setback, Mack totaled 1,999 rushing yards between 2018 and ’19. Behind Jonathan Taylor this year, Mack has gained 97 yards on 25 carries, good for 3.9 yards per tote. Of course, that’s been in a small sample size, so Mack is hoping to show his stuff elsewhere as a regular.

“I’m definitely young,” Mack said earlier this year. “That’s the thing. In this business as a running back, they say I’m an old man already, but I’m only 25…That’s why it’s like, ‘Man, I’ve got to go out there and get it now.’ Next year teams may be like, ‘Yeah, I don’t want that old running back.’”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Deshaun Watson Would Not Be Placed On Exempt List If Traded

Multiple teams are still interested in trading for Texans QB Deshaun Watson, as Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports (video link). Critically, Rapoport says Watson would not be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list if he were to be dealt.

Of course, Watson has no interest in playing for the Texans, and the Texans have no interest in trying to force their best trade asset to suit up. So he has effectively been on paid leave all season, but we have heard all along that if another club were to trade for the three-time Pro Bowler, the league could step in and park him on the exempt list until his legal situation is resolved, thereby making a trade difficult to consummate.

Rapoport, citing the provision of the NFL’s personal conduct policy that states that a player can be placed on the exempt list if he has been charged with a felony or violent crime, says Watson — who has not been criminally charged at this point — should be eligible to play for any team that acquires him. And, RapSheet hears that a deal is expected to be completed prior to the November 2 deadline.

A recent report indicated that the Panthers and Eagles were no longer involved in the Watson sweepstakes and that the Dolphins were the only team left standing. However, Rapoport says the Dolphins are not alone in their pursuit, and that in addition to Carolina, Philadelphia, and the Broncos, there are other clubs sniffing around.

That report could have been leaked by the Texans in an effort to get Miami to increase its offer. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that no team has been as motivated as the Dolphins to get a deal done, and Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reports that the Texans have told another club that they have to beat Miami’s offer (via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald on Twitter). Plus, it’s unclear if Watson will waive his no-trade clause for any team other than the Dolphins.

In addition to Watson, there are other Texans players that could be on the move in the next week or so. La Canfora hears that LT Laremy Tunsil could have been a trade candidate if he had not suffered a serious thumb injury earlier this month, and other players that GM Nick Caserio might seek to trade include QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Phillip Lindsay, LB Christian Kirksey, and CB Desmond King.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints WR Chris Hogan To Retire

Chris Hogan left football behind earlier this year, opting to try lacrosse again. But he ultimately decided to play a 10th NFL season, signing with the Saints. One day away from his 34th birthday, the veteran wide receiver is stepping away from the game again.

After playing in five games with the Saints, Hogan is now on the team’s reserve/retired list. Hogan caught on with New Orleans just before the start of the season. He caught four passes for 41 yards, including his 19th career touchdown, as a Saint.

A four-year Bills contributor, Hogan will be best remembered for his mid-career run with the Patriots. Plucked by the Pats via an RFA offer sheet in 2016, Hogan played a key role for two Super Bowl champion squads. Hogan led the NFL with 17.9 yards per reception in 2016 and totaled 12 touchdown catches in three Pats seasons.

The Monmouth alum delivered when called upon in the playoffs with the Pats. The ex-lacrosse player caught nine passes for 180 yards and two scores in the 2016 AFC championship game, finishing with 332 postseason receiving yards for the Super Bowl LI champions. With the Pats down Julian Edelman and then Brandin Cooks, Hogan then added 128 yards in Super Bowl LII a year later.

Hogan spent the past three seasons with three different teams, suiting up for the Panthers, Jets and Saints. He suffered injuries in both the 2019 and ’20 slates, with knee and ankle maladies limiting him to 12 games over that period.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/23/21

Here is the run of Week 7 Saturday minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Promoted: LB Darius Harris, LB Christian Rozeboom
  • Placed on IR: TE Jody Fortson

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Eagles, Panthers Not Serious Deshaun Watson Suitors

If the Texans are serious about unloading Deshaun Watson before this year’s trade deadline, they may be down to one interested suitor. The Dolphins appear to be bidding against themselves for the embattled quarterback, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports notes.

In addition to Watson’s off-field trouble, his no-trade clause limits the Texans. Watson is not believed to be interested in being dealt to Philadelphia, Jones adds, while Carolina’s interest cooled months ago. Indeed, the Texans’ conversations with the Panthers did not get far, Joe Person of The Athletic notes (subscription required).

[RELATED: Dolphins, Texans Talking Watson Trade]

The Panthers were perhaps the most interested Watson suitor before his off-field issues surfaced. Once the 22 accusations of sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct became tied to his future, the Dolphins have been the only team connected. Despite Brian Flores continuing to indicate confidence in Tua Tagovailoa, owner Stephen Rossinterest in Watson has complicated Miami’s quarterback situation. If Watson is to be dealt before this year’s Nov. 2 deadline, the Ross component would seemingly be what drives such a transaction.

The Carolina and Philadelphia conversations getting out this week may be a last-ditch Houston effort to push Miami to up its offer. The Texans set a historically high asking price for their talented quarterback — three first-rounders and two seconds. But with the Dolphins being the lone team expressing true interest, that stands to drive down the price. That is, unless the Texans are willing to table a trade until 2022.

It would seem that is Houston’s best chance at receiving full value for Watson, whose off-field troubles obviously have a better chance of being resolved by next season. The Texans have deactivated Watson for six games. Doing so for 11 more, thus erasing the QB’s age-26 season, and regrouping for a 2022 sweepstakes — when more teams figure to be in the mix — would make sense. The Texans having that card to play could induce the Dolphins to increase their offer now.

If the Dolphins are to acquire Watson now, the NFL may be forced to act regarding the commissioner’s exempt list. While the 81-year-old Ross is believed to be in win-now mode, the Dolphins — at 1-5 — are unlikely to contend this season. A move before Nov. 2 may be about landing Watson for 2022 and beyond, Jones offers, though a suspension next season likely looms.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/22/21

Here are Friday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Tennessee Titans

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: P Brett Kern

Free agents

Several Teams Looking Into Marlon Mack

The Colts have used Marlon Mack sparingly this season, but the fifth-year running back continues to generate some interest ahead of the Nov. 2 trade deadline. Linked to Mack earlier this month, the Chiefs have some company on this front.

While the Chiefs continue to be connected to the former 1,000-yard rusher, USA Today’s Josina Anderson notes the 49ers, Panthers and Saints have also checked in with the Colts on Mack recently (Twitter link). Mack re-signed with the Colts on a one-year deal but has been on the trade block for a bit now.

Indianapolis has Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines locked in as its long-term duo, with Mack logging just 25 carries thus far this season. Mack suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in Week 1 of last season but has recovered. Taylor gained control of the Colts’ backfield during Mack’s hiatus, and Indy agreed to make an effort at finding Mack a landing spot via trade.

Carolina is without Christian McCaffrey for at least two more games, having placed him on IR with a troublesome hamstring injury last week. Fourth-round rookie Chuba Hubbard leads the Panthers’ backfield, which lost Mike Davis in free agency in March. The Saints released Latavius Murray before Week 1 and are without backup Tony Jones for the time being, while the 49ers have run into a litany of injury issues at running back. San Francisco lost Raheem Mostert for the year, and Kyle Shanahan is targeting November for Jeff Wilson (PUP) to return from his foot injury. The 49ers have also seen promising rookie Elijah Mitchell and veteran JaMycal Hasty run into injury trouble.

Prior to Mack’s Achilles setback, he totaled 1,999 rushing yards between the 2018 and ’19 seasons. Behind Taylor this year, Mack has gained 97 yards on 25 carries. The 25-year-old back is due less than $750K in base salary the rest of the way.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.