Panthers Rumors

Panthers Promote LB Deion Jones

With Shaq Thompson out of the mix after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured fibula, the Panthers will bring up one of the league’s most experienced linebackers. After joining Carolina’s practice squad, Deion Jones is now on the team’s 53-man roster.

A six-year Falcons starter, Jones wound up with the Browns via trade last year. He caught on with the Panthers this summer, and while he did not make the squad out of the preseason, the Thompson injury has changed the equation for Frank Reich‘s team. To fill Jones’ spot on the practice squad, the Panthers added quarterback Jake Luton. The former Jaguars QB went to camp with the Panthers as well.

The Panthers plugged Kamu Grugier-Hill into their lineup after Thompson was carted to the locker room Monday night. It will be interesting to see if Jones can carve out a steady role, given his experience. The former Atlanta standout and pick-six maven has made 88 starts; five of those came with the Browns last season.

Jones’ stock has undeniably dipped since he signed a big-ticket Falcons extension back in 2019, with The Athletic’s Joe Person noting the Panthers were not especially high on him during training camp (subscription required). The team then released Jones, 28, before circling back via a practice squad invite. Grugier-Hill, 29, has made 37 career starts; the Panthers are his sixth team. But the well-traveled vet fared well replacing Thompson on Monday night, recording a sack, a tackle for loss and six total stops in Carolina’s loss to New Orleans.

The team has made a number of changes at linebacker in recent years, though losing Thompson for a season will require the franchise’s biggest adjustment at the position since Luke Kuechly‘s early retirement. The Panthers still have hybrid player Frankie Luvu at the position. Their other two active-roster LBs — Chandler Wooten, Claudin Cherelus — do not bring much experience. The Panthers added Wooten (11 career games) off the Cardinals’ practice squad last year and claimed Cherelus (one career game) off waivers from the Jets last month.

Jones racked up 44 tackles, 2.5 sacks and an interception during 11 games in Cleveland, doing so after agreeing to remove the 2023 season from his Falcons-constructed contract. The move made Jones a free agent, and while interest came his way, no notable offers emerged. He signed a one-year, $1.17MM contract with the Panthers on July 31. The former Super Bowl starter has five 100-tackle seasons, racking up 46 tackles for loss and 11 sacks over the course of his career. Jones has also run back five of his 12 career INTs for scores; the five pick-sixes rank fourth all time among linebackers.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/19/23

Today’s practice squad transactions:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

  • Signed: LB Milo Eiler

Carolina Panthers

Detroit Lions

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

According to Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald, Matt Corral has landed back with the Patriots after going unclaimed on waivers. It’s been a busy few months for Corral, who has bounced on and off the Panthers and Patriots rosters. He’ll now return to New England as the organization’s third QB behind Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe.

Eric Rowe didn’t last all that long in Carolina after landing on the team’s practice squad in late August. The veteran defensive back spent the past four seasons in Miami, starting 39 of his 63 appearances. He’ll be replaced by Matthias Farley, who brings 100 games of experience to the Panthers. The safety has bounced around the league recently but didn’t miss a game between 2020 and 2022.

It took Mykal Walker a few weeks to find a new gig after getting cut by the Bears on roster deadline day. The former fourth-round pick spent the first three seasons of his career with the Falcons, including a 2022 campaign where he finished with 107 tackles. He was surprisingly waived by Atlanta in mid-August before getting scooped up by Chicago. Now, he’ll have a chance to revive his career in Las Vegas.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/19/23

Today’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

Tennessee Titans

Michael Dogbe, a former seventh-round pick, got into 40 games for the Cardinals through the first four seasons of his career. This included 2021 and 2022 campaigns where he appeared in 29 games, collecting 55 tackles and one sack. He caught on with the Texans last week and proceeded to appear in about 25 percent of the team’s defensive snaps this past weekend.

Kyle Peko will bring 31 games of experience to the Titans defensive line. The veteran has already been promoted by the Titans twice this season and started both of his appearances, collecting four tackles. He’ll be taking the spot of Jayden Peevy, who got into two games across two seasons with the organization.

Panthers LB Shaq Thompson Out For Season

SEPTEMBER 19: Thompson has already undergone surgery to repair the fibula fracture, per Reich (via Rapoport). This step will end the nine-year vet’s season.

SEPTEMBER 18: A cart transported Shaq Thompson to the locker room during the Panthers’ narrow loss to the Saints tonight. It does not look like the veteran linebacker will be in uniform again soon.

Frank Reich confirmed Thompson suffered a “significant” ankle injury against the Saints and will miss extensive time, Cameron Wolfe of tweets. It should be expected an IR stint will take place, and’s Ian Rapoport reports this injury is likely to sideline Thompson for the season’s remainder.

It is not yet a lock Thompson is done for the year, with’s Tom Pelissero reporting the veteran defender sustained a fibula fracture that will require more tests to determine if he has a chance of coming back this season. Thompson, 29, is the Panthers’ longest-tenured defender and the only starter remaining from the team’s Super Bowl 50 appearance. He has been with the Panthers since 2015, when the team selected him in the first round.

Thompson has made 107 starts for the Panthers — third-most by a linebacker in team history, behind only Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly. This trio was in place from 2015-18, but Davis finished his career elsewhere and Kuechly retired after the 2019 season. While the Panthers have made a number of changes on defense as they transitioned from Ron Rivera to Matt Rhule to Reich as HC, Thompson has persisted.

This offseason, the Panthers effectively gave Thompson a pay cut. Thompson had signed a four-year, $54.43MM extension in December 2019. Two years remained on that deal. Rather than head into what became a modest market for off-ball linebackers not named Tremaine Edmunds this offseason, Thompson opted to stay on a revised deal. The Panthers gave Thompson additional guarantees in exchange for the cut; he is now tied to a two-year $12.6MM agreement. Thompson received $8.5MM guaranteed on this adjusted accord, which still runs through 2024.

Carolina has moved on from a few of its linebackers in recent years, trading Denzel Perryman and then moving on from other Rhule-era pickups (Jermaine Carter, Cory Littleton, Damien Wilson). Hybrid player Frankie Luvu operates as a key off-ball presence for Carolina, which used offseason pickup Kamu Grugier-Hill in place of Thompson tonight. That arrangement may be likely to continue for the foreseeable future, barring a surprise diagnosis or the Panthers making a move at linebacker.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/18/23

Here are Monday’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos

  • Signed off Patriots’ practice squad: DE Ronnie Perkins

New Orleans Saints

The Broncos will take a flier on a former third-round pick. Perkins arrived as a 2021 Patriots third-rounder, coming out of Oklahoma. Injuries intervened for the St. Louis native, who has yet to play in a regular-season game. After not playing for three-plus months to start his rookie season, Perkins landed on IR. The Pats then placed him on season-ending IR in August 2022. Perkins did not make New England’s 53-man roster this year but stuck around via a practice squad invite. Because the Broncos are poaching Perkins off a P-squad, they must keep him on their active roster for at least three weeks.

Brian Burns: Panthers Extension Talks “On Hold”

With the regular season underway, many notable extension-eligible players have turned the attention from contract talks to their performance on the field. Panthers edge rusher Brian Burns is among them.

Talks between Burns and the Panthers took place this offseason, but the parties never seemed on the verge of an agreement being reached. The 25-year-old was present for training camp, but his temporary absence in the build-up to Week 1 left his status in question until shortly before the season opener. Burns is now prepared to put that process in the rearview and pause negotiations until the winter. He will make $16MM on the fifth-year option in 2023.

“We haven’t really been in talks,” the Florida State alum said, via ESPN’s David Newton“I told them once the season started I’m all about ball. I can’t give a thousand percent on the field and to my teammates if I’m still worried about contract negotiations.”

Burns added that he considered a training camp holdout at one point, a tactic which many players have employed to create leverage during extension talks. Instead of remaining absent from the team during the summer – or even into the start of the regular season, as Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones did for one week this year – Burns committed to playing this season without a new deal in hand. A notable gap is believed to exist with respect to asking price on what will be a lucrative accord, making it little surprise that negotiations will be tabled.

Notably, however, Newton notes that the Panthers are willing to carry on extension talks during the campaign. It will be interesting to see if either side changes its stance as the season plays out. Burns got off to a productive start in Week 1 with a pair of sacks, bringing his career total to 40 in 65 games. A strong season (like his second straight Pro Bowl year in 2022) would help his market value, and thus his chances of landing a deal close to the historic one Nick Bosa signed with the 49ers days before Week 1.

That pact carries a $34MM AAV, well outpacing the next highest edge rush deal (T.J. Watt‘s $28MM-per-year contract). The Panthers are believed to be targeting a Burns extension landing him closer to Maxx Crosby‘s annual compensation of $23.MM. A figure falling between those two baselines would come as little surprise if and when a deal is struck keeping Burns in Carolina, but it appears such a development will not take place for at least the next several months.

Panthers G Brady Christensen Out For Year

SEPTMEBER 16: Frank Reich made the announcement today that second-year interior lineman Cade Mays will start in Christensen’s place for now, according to Panthers staff writer Darin Gantt. He reportedly declined to specify whether Mays would start at right or left guard, though. Last week, Zavala made the start at right guard in Corbett’s place across from Christensen. That being said, Zavala played most of his college career, at Fairmont State and NC State, at left guard. This should give Reich some flexibility in how he wants to address his starting lineup with two backups at guard.

SEPTMEBER 13: Reminding of the situation to close last season, the Panthers will be without both their starting guards. Brady Christensen is now on IR. The third-year blocker sustained a biceps injury late in Carolina’s loss in Atlanta.

The injury Christensen suffered will sideline him for the rest of the season, David Newton of notes. Potentially a biceps tear, Christensen’s setback comes at a bad time for the Panthers, as it is not known if Corbett will be ready to return from the reserve/PUP list when first eligible. This will also derail some momentum Christensen had established as a guard. The 2024 season will be a contract year for the former college All-American.

The Panthers remain without their starting right guard — Austin Corbett — due to the ACL tear he suffered in Week 18. Corbett began the season on the reserve/PUP list. He is ineligible to return until at least Week 5. Christensen, who lines up at left guard, is now out until at least Week 6.

Carolina re-signing center Bradley Bozeman revealed a plan for the team to return the same five O-linemen from 2022, doing so despite changing coaching staffs this offseason. But it will be a bit before that vision can be realized. Christensen joined Corbett in going down just before the close of last season. The former third-round pick suffered a broken ankle in the Panthers’ season finale, and while he returned ahead of Corbett, more time away will now be required.

Viewed as a tackle earlier in his career, Christensen moved to guard on a full-time basis during the 2022 offseason and started 17 games. Chandler Zavala, a rookie fourth-round pick, started opposite Christensen against the Falcons. Chosen due partially to the injury trouble the team was experiencing at guard, Zavala will be a Panthers starter for the foreseeable future.

Cade Mays, Calvin Throckmorton and rookie UDFA Nash Jensen reside as options to replace Christensen. The Panthers added Throckmorton off waivers from the Saints in August. Mays started two games last season, and while he made offseason strides, Zavala beat him out for the starting job. Jensen did not see any game action in Week 1. Throckmorton made 20 starts from 2021-22 with New Orleans; he represents an interesting option as the Panthers prepare to face the Saints in Week 2.

Panthers, OLB Brian Burns Never Came Close To Extension

The offseason came and went with no extension for talented, young Panthers pass rusher Brian Burns. While the negotiations kept Burns out of some offseason participation, and potentially some practices before Week 1, they didn’t prevent him from making his season debut this past weekend in Atlanta. Despite Burns’ willingness not to hold out, it appears that the two sides were never close to an agreement on a new deal, according to David Newton of ESPN.

Head coach Frank Reich reportedly made it seem as if Burns not practicing in the team’s first two practices of the week was related to his contract after calling it a “personal matter.” He would go on to commend the consummate professionalism of Burns throughout the process of preparing for the season opener without committing to Burns’ participation in Week 1. Regardless, Burns showed up to practice for the remainder of the week and racked up two sacks in his first start of the year.

Many expected Burns’ representation to use Nick Bosa‘s extension with the 49ers as a measuring stick for a new deal. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year secured the largest commitment ever made to a player on that side of the ball (five years, $170MM with $88MM guaranteed), likely boosting the edge market as a whole. Burns was reported to be seeking an AAV similar to Bosa’s. Carolina is aiming for a pact averaging closer to Maxx Crosby‘s annual compensation ($23.5MM).

While Burns has struggled in other aspects of the game, he has proven to have elite pass rushing ability. As the market for pass rushers continue to rise, a strong contract year for Burns should only guarantee that he increases his asking price in free agency. A likely range for him to fall into is squarely between Bosa and Crosby and closer to the ranges of T.J. Watt and the older Joey Bosa ($28MM and $27MM, respectively).

Another likely scenario sees the Panthers attempting to franchise tag Burns to keep him away from the free agent market for an additional season. In an ideal world, the Panthers could avoid the potential of damaging their relationship with Burns by reaching an extension during the season and avoiding the need for the franchise tag. For now, though, the two parties may just need some time to step away and let the situation breathe before returning for more negotiations.

Panthers To Place CB Jaycee Horn On IR

SEPTEMBER 15: The Panthers will place Horn on IR,’s Ian Rapoport reports. While Horn would be eligible to return by Week 6, Rapoport adds a comeback will likely not be in the cards until at least the season’s second-half. The injury is not, however, believed to be season-ending. This hiatus will push Horn’s games-missed number past 20 over the course of his young career.

SEPTEMBER 13: Injuries have dogged Jaycee Horn throughout his NFL career. Another one has cropped up, and Frank Reich confirmed Wednesday the former top-10 pick will miss a significant chunk of the season.

Horn suffered a hamstring injury against the Falcons in Week 1, and Reich indicated (via The Athletic’s Joe Person) surgery is in play. Carolina’s top cornerback is seeking a second opinion. As should be expected, Horn is a candidate to land on injured reserve. The Panthers already moved one starter — left guard Brady Christensento IR on Wednesday.

At the very least, Horn will miss multiple games, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. The South Carolina alum has already missed 18 contests as a pro. A broken foot derailed Horn’s rookie season, and he sustained multiple injuries — including a broken wrist — in 2022. Horn missed offseason time due to an ankle injury. The Panthers are planning to add a cornerback, Person tweets. Christensen’s IR move leaves their roster at 52 players.

The Panthers have seen flashes from Horn, and they protected him as trade interest emerged following Matt Rhule‘s October 2022 firing. But the team also passed on two future All-Pro defenders — Patrick Surtain, Micah Parsons — in that 2021 draft. The team chose Horn eighth overall, making him the first corner off the board that year. The Broncos chose Surtain, a 2022 first-team All-Pro, at No. 9. Parsons went 12th overall.

Horn, 24, made it through 20 defensive snaps before going down in Week 1. The 6-foot-1 cover man remains Carolina’s centerpiece corner, though the team has Donte Jackson signed to a three-year, $35.18MM deal. Carolina added slot defender Troy Hill late in the summer and acquired former Jaguars top-10 draftee C.J. Henderson shortly after losing Horn two years ago. Henderson, however, has not played particularly well since coming to Charlotte. The Panthers passed on his fifth-year option in May.

Horn’s rookie contract runs through 2024, though it can be extended through 2025 via the fifth-year option. The run of injuries Horn has encountered will complicate Carolina’s decision regarding his fifth-year option; that call is due in May 2024.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/14/23

Today’s minor transactions:

Carolina Panthers

  • Signed off Raiders practice squad: CB Sam Webb

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

  • Signed off Raiders practice squad: G McClendon Curtis
  • Signed off Buccaneers practice squad: OT Raiqwon O’Neal

With Jaycee Horn being placed on IR, the Panthers added some cornerback depth by snagging Sam Webb of the Raiders practice squad. The former UDFA got into all 17 games for Las Vegas in 2022, finishing with 36 tackles. He was cut by the Raiders at the end of the preseason before landing back on their practice squad.