Panthers Rumors

NFC Front Office Notes: Eagles, Rosenberg, Falcons, Giants, Panthers, Bears

Jake Rosenberg‘s Eagles exit is now official. After a report earlier this offseason indicated Rosenberg would step down following a 12-year tenure with the team, the Eagles’ VP of football administration made the announcement (via PHLY.com’s Zach Berman). A friend of GM Howie Roseman‘s dating back to elementary school, Rosenberg assisted the Eagles on the salary cap front. The team has frequently been ahead of the curve in this area, as its 2024 offseason reinforced. It is not known where Rosenberg is headed, but this marks another key departure in the Eagles’ front office. Two years ago, four of Roseman’s lieutenants — Brandon Brown, Ian Cunningham, Catherine Raiche, Andy Weidl — left for assistant GM roles elsewhere. Another key piece will need to be replaced now.

Post-draft front office changes are common around the league. Here is the latest from the NFC:

  • Despite not being a Terry Fontenot hire, Tokunbo Abanikanda will rise to a key post in the Falcons‘ front office. The team is promoting the veteran scout to its college scouting director post, InsidetheLeague.com’s Neil Stratton tweets. Abanikanda has been with the Falcons since midway through Thomas Dimitroff‘s GM tenure, arriving in 2012. He will now take a pivotal role in the team’s draft preparation. Elsewhere in the Falcons’ front office, the team’s player personnel coordinator — Brian Zeches — is moving on, Stratton adds. Formerly an exec in Washington and Kansas City, Zeches was named to this post during the 2023 offseason.
  • In addition to adding Chris Snee to their scouting staff, the Giants are making multiple in-house promotions. They are bumping Nick La Testa to assistant director of pro scouting and naming Charles Tisch their football operations manager, The Athletic’s Dan Duggan tweets. Charles Tisch, who had been a football ops assistant, is the nephew of Giants co-owner Steve Tisch. With the Giants since 2017, La Testa had previously worked on the scouting level for the team.
  • A Carolina-to-Washington pipeline formed during Ron Rivera‘s NFC East stay, but the Commanders will now lose an exec to the Panthers. Carolina is hiring David Whittington for a college scouting role, according to Stratton. Whittington had been with Washington since 2009, holding several positions. Most recently, he worked as a national scout with the Commanders. The Panthers are also adding Eric Eager to their analytics department, per Stratton. Eager, a former Pro Football Focus staffer, worked most recently as the vice president of SumerSports, an analytics-based website that also employs Dimitroff presently.
  • The Bears are going through with a round of promotions as well. GM Ryan Poles is elevating Breck Ackley from assistant college scouting director to the director post, while Stratton notes national scout Francis St. Paul will become the assistant director. Area scouts Brendan Rehor and John Syty are also moving to national scouting roles.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/13/24

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

  • Claimed off waivers (from 49ers): DL Spencer Waege
  • Placed on reserve/retired list: OL Trente Jones

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Signed: DL Chris Collins

Miami Dolphins

  • Signed: OL Ireland Brown, CB Jason Maitre

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

  • Signed: RB Terrell Jennings, G Ryan Johnson, LB Jay Person, DE Jotham Russell
  • Waived: RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

  • Signed: DL Elijah Chatman
  • Waived: OLB Jeremiah Martin

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Waived: OL Kellen Diesch

San Francisco 49ers

  • Signed: DL Shakel Brown

Seattle Seahawks

  • Signed: DE Nathan Pickering, LB Devin Richardson

Tennessee Titans

Panthers Interested In Veteran QB Addition

The Panthers currently have three quarterbacks on the roster, including undrafted rookie Jack PlummerHe took part in Carolina’s rookie minicamp over the weekend and remains with the team, but further moves under center could be taking place.

Carolina has 2023 first overall pick Bryce Young atop the depth chart. The 22-year-old did not meet expectations during his rookie season, but the team’s offseason moves in free agency and the draft were aimed in large part at providing him better protection up front and an enhanced skill-position group. Veteran Andy Dalton – who made three appearances and one start last season – is under contract for one more year as Young’s backup.

First-year head coach Dave Canales said in March the Panthers could be suitors for an experienced third quarterback. No addition on that front has been made through the post-draft wave of free agency, but Canales (who praised Plummer’s performance) noted the team is still keeping their “ears to the ground” on the subject of veteran signal-callers.

“What we always like to do is to add people, especially guys that have some kind of exposure to our system,” Canales said, via The Athletic’s Joe Person (subscription required). “I’m looking for value for the quarterback room. What do they bring for that room, for Bryce in particular?”

Ryan Tannehill, Blaine Gabbert, Brian Hoyer and Trevor Siemian are among the top options still available for the Panthers or other teams eyeing veteran insurance. Carolina has roughly $6MM in cap space entering Monday, a smaller figure than several others teams at this point in the offseason (although the Panthers have already inked their entire draft class). Given the depth of experienced passers on the market, any addition would likely not be an expensive one.

Part of the Canales hire was based the ex-Seahawks and Buccaneers staffers’ work developing quarterbacks. His ability to oversee a rebound performance from Young will be a defining storyline for the Panthers in 2024, but it will be interesting to see if the team adds depth behind him in the near future.

Panthers Sign 19 UDFA Rookies

The Panthers were able to address some weak spots on the roster with their draft picks last month but weren’t able to add much help to the offensive and defensive fronts. Thanks to a number of departures and a relatively small, seven-man draft class, Carolina was able to add a large, 19-man undrafted free agent group that does just that. Here’s the list of new UDFAs:

On offense, the Panthers add a little depth and a bit of potential, as well. Plummer was a journeyman in college, playing at Purdue for four years before spending a year each at Cal and Louisville. After a quiet tenure with the Boilermakers, Plummer delivered back-to-back 3,000-yard, 21-touchdown passing seasons for the Golden Bears and Cardinals.

At running back, Shirden doesn’t have much size or power, but his quick burst and speed are great attributes. In 2022, he led the FCS in rushing with 1,722 yards and 13 touchdowns while averaging 8.4 yards per carry. He followed that up in 2023 with 1,478 yards and 10 touchdowns. Coker was another small school phenom at Holy Cross. In his final two years, Coker caught 109 balls for 1,952 yards and 26 touchdowns. The jump in competition will be large for both players, but if they can make the adjustment, they could each earn roster spots.

Raym could be an underrated addition as a backup center after 29 starts at the position for the Sooners. He lacks perfect technique and athleticism but has toughness and instincts that could help him succeed in the NFL, and we’ve seen other linemen out of Oklahoma with similar limitations strive in the league.

On defense, Carolina brings in the try-hard Husky Mitchell. In all three years as a full-time starter, Mitchell led his team in tackles with 120, 140, and 113 from 2021-23. He stuffed the stat sheet over his collegiate career with 25 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, 10 passes defensed, and three interceptions. He struggles to overcome blockers and doesn’t cover well, but his above-average play recognition could make him a nuisance.

The Panthers added a small school phenom on defense, as well. Drew comes in from Virginia State, where he dominated in his last two seasons as a starter. He showed elite ball skills, racking up 34 passes defensed and 11 interceptions in those two years. Like Shirden and Coker, he’ll need to trust his abilities and develop to compete with much tougher competition.

Ben Levine contributed to this post.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/10/24

Friday’s minor transactions as we head into the weekend:

Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills

  • Deemed international roster exemption: T Travis Clayton

Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

Cohen hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since his time in Chicago, where he earned first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors as a punt returner, ended in 2020. The North Carolina A&T product had been part of an effective 1-2 punch with Jordan Howard but saw his role diminish with the arrival of David Montgomery in 2019. Since then, injuries have limited the explosive rusher’s ability to make an impact.

Panthers Sign Entire 2024 Draft Class

Thursday’s frenzy of draft-slot deals continues, and the Panthers are knocking this task off in one session. Carolina agreed to terms with its entire 2024 draft class tonight, locking in seven rookie contracts.

Xavier Legette headlines the list. Although the Panthers did not hold a first-round pick coming into the draft (thanks to the Bryce Young trade), they will have a fifth-year option on Legette’s contract by virtue of trading up one spot to No. 32 for the South Carolina prospect. The wide receiver’s rookie deal will be fully guaranteed.

The Panthers and Patriots both sent the Bills offers for No. 32, after Buffalo had traded down from 28, and Legette is believed to have been New England’s target as well. Buffalo chose Carolina’s offer, which included the Panthers sending over a fifth-round pick to climb from No. 33 to No. 32. Legette will join 2023 second-round wideout Jonathan Mingo, with the Panthers using two picks in the 30s — Mingo went 39th last year — to supplement veterans Adam Thielen and Diontae Johnson. With Thielen’s guarantees done after 2024 and Johnson’s Steelers-constructed extension expiring after this season, Legette and Mingo profile as the Panthers’ long-term Young targets.

Catching teams’ eye partially because he clocked a 4.39-second 40-yard dash at 227 pounds, Legette was not on the first-round radar for much of his Gamecocks career. While lauded for his blocking, Legette did not eclipse 200 receiving yards in any of his first four South Carolina seasons. Teaming with Spencer Rattler once again in 2023, Legette broke through for 1,255 yards and seven TD receptions. He and Mingo will give Young two big-bodied targets, with the latter checking in at 220 pounds.

Carolina traded second-round picks in the 2023 and ’25 drafts to obtain Young, but the team came into this draft with two picks in Round 2 thanks to the Brian Burns trade. That gave the Panthers the No. 39 pick in this draft. GM Dan Morgan accepted a Rams offer to move down to No. 52, picking up a fifth-round pick and a 2025 second-rounder in the process. Carolina then packaged that fifth-rounder (along with another 2024 fifth) to Indianapolis to climb to No. 46, making Jonathon Brooks this year’s first running back selected.

Joining a backfield housing Miles Sanders and Chuba Hubbard, Brooks comes to Charlotte after a November 2023 ACL tear. The Bijan Robinson Longhorns RB1 successor is expected to be cleared by training camp, but his 2023 injury undoubtedly affected his draft stock. This draft did not offer the type of RB prospects last year’s did, but another new Panthers regime dived in by making Brooks the only back chosen in the first or second round. Robinson’s former backup totaled 1,139 rushing yards (6.1 per tote) and 10 touchdowns in 11 games.

The Panthers did not see their Sanders investment pay off last year, and they benched the ex-Super Bowl starter for Hubbard. Sanders’ guarantees wrap after 2024, and Hubbard’s rookie deal expires after this season. This points to Brooks having a route to being Carolina’s unquestioned RB1 by 2025, should he prove healthy following this rehab process. This year, however, may feature a committee approach in Carolina.

It will be interesting to learn how well Brooks’ side did regarding guarantees, as second-round slot deals are producing the most wiggle room as of late. With the rookie contracts done, here are the drafted rookies set to develop under the Panthers’ coaching staff this offseason:

  • Round 1, No. 32 (from Chiefs through Bills): Xavier Legette (WR, South Carolina) (signed)
  • Round 2, No. 46 (from Colts): Jonathon Brooks (RB, Texas) (signed)
  • Round 3, No. 72 (from Jets): Trevin Wallace (LB, Kentucky) (signed)
  • Round 4, No. 101: Ja’Tavion Sanders (TE, Texas) (signed)
  • Round 5, No. 157 (from Browns through Vikings): Chau Smith-Wade (CB, Washington State) (signed)
  • Round 6: No. 200 (from Cowboys through Texans and Bills): Jaden Crumedy (DT, Mississippi State) (signed)
  • Round 7, No. 240 (from Steelers): Michael Barrett (LB, Michigan) (signed)

Patriots Targeted WR Xavier Legette

While the Bills exited the first round more closely tied to Xavier Legette, the South Carolina wide receiver prospect evidently did not meet the value of the No. 32 draft slot for the defending AFC East champions. But a division rival was in on the size-speed weapon.

After the Bills moved down from No. 28 to No. 32, leading to the Chiefs selecting Xavier Worthy, Buffalo received multiple offers for the final pick of Round 1. The Panthers ended up winning out, obtaining No. 32 in exchange for Nos. 33 and 141, the Patriots also sent their twice-a-year opponents an offer for the pick. Legette was indeed the Pats’ target, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler.

[RELATED: Patriots Rejected Giants, Vikings’ Offers For No. 3]

Brian Thomas Jr. went off the board to the Jaguars at No. 23; that pick set up the second run on receivers. After the Chiefs chose Worthy, five wideouts went off the board between Nos. 31 and 37. The Patriots had hoped to move toward the front of this wave, but after Legette went off the board, they stepped back by moving from No. 34 to 37 (via the Chargers, who sent the Pats No. 110 in the swap). Three picks after the Bolts’ Ladd McConkey choice, the Pats ended up with their WR hopeful — Washington’s Ja’Lynn Polk.

Of the six WRs chosen between 28 and 37 (Worthy, Ricky Pearsall, Legette, Keon Coleman, McConkey, Polk), only one — Pearsall — did not involve a trade. This run of position jockeying will be interesting to revisit down the line, as teams will attempt to develop their chosen WRs.

Legette will join 2023 second-round wideout Jonathan Mingo in Carolina, with the Panthers using two picks in the 30s — Mingo went 39th last year — to supplement veterans Adam Thielen and Diontae Johnson. Thielen’s contract pays out its remaining guarantees this year, while Johnson’s Steelers extension expires after the season. Johnson and Legette certainly represent an upgrade from what Carolina gave Bryce Young in his rookie season.

The Patriots made an aggressive pursuit of Calvin Ridley, but after the Titans’ four-year, $96MM offer won out, Drake Maye will be developing alongside Polk. Legette, who made “30” visits to meet with the Panthers and Bills, pairs a 4.39-second 40-yard dash time with a 227-pound frame. Lauded for his blocking ability, Legette made a remarkable transformation. After never breaking the 200-yard barrier in four seasons with the Gamecocks, he broke through for 1,255 (17.7 per catch) and seven TDs in 2023.

ESPN’s Scouts Inc. slotted Legette 28th overall in this class and ranked Polk 60th. The Pats ranked Polk in their top six or seven, per Fowler; it just appears Legette came in a bit higher on that list.

Working opposite Rome Odunze in a Washington offense that saw three wideouts drafted in the first three rounds, Polk produced 694 yards and six TDs in Michael Penix Jr.‘s first Huskies season and then went 69-1,159-9 in 2023. The Pats, who certainly experienced issues developing highly drafted WRs during Bill Belichick‘s run, will attempt to groom Polk alongside the likes of Kendrick Bourne, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyquan Thornton, Demario Douglas and free agency addition K.J. Osborn.

2024 NFL General Manager Search Tracker

With the Patriots hiring Eliot Wolf as their de facto GM after having moved on from Bill Belichick, all five teams in need of a GM have filled their post this offseason. If other teams decide to make GM changes, they’ll be added to this list.

Updated 5-11-24 (4:35pm CT)

Carolina Panthers

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

Washington Commanders

Panthers Plan To Sign RB Rashaad Penny

Another addition to Carolina’s backfield appears to be on the way. The Panthers plan to sign Rashaad Penny, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports.

Fowler adds the move will likely be made after the team’s rookie minicamp is completed. Provided it does, Penny will join a running back depth chart which already features second-round rookie Jonathon Brooks along with veterans Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders. Despite his underwhelming performance last season, the latter is not on the trade block.

Carolina ranked 20th in the NFL in rushing yards last season, averaging 104 yards per game on the ground. That marked much better efficiency than the team’s passing attack, but it still left plenty of room for improvement. After making a pair of lucrative free agent investments along the interior offensive line (guards Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis), the Panthers made Brooks the first running back to hear his name called at the draft. Hubbard has one year remaining on his rookie contract while Sanders is on the books for three more years.

Penny will aim to carve out a roster spot while competing with those three (along with Tarik Cohen, Mike Boone and Raheem Blackshear) for playing time. The former first-rounder has dealt with considerable injury troubles during his career, with his best season coming in 2021 (749 yards, six touchdowns). Penny led the league with a 6.3 yards per carry average that year, but he has been limited to just eight games since then.

The 28-year-old played on a one-year deal with the Eagles last season, serving in a limited capacity. Penny received just 12 touches, and he will be aiming to secure a larger workload in Carolina. This move will represent a reunion between Penny and new Panthers head coach Dave Canales. The latter was a member of the Seahawks’ staff during all five of the former’s campaigns in Seattle.

The Panthers entered Monday with roughly $8MM in cap space, so a deal for Penny (which will no doubt be a short-term, low-cost endeavor) should be manageable. It will be interesting to see how Carolina’s backfield pecking order shakes out provided a deal is finalized in the near future.

Panthers, Stephon Gilmore Not Close To Deal

Both before and after the draft, the Panthers have been linked to a reunion with Stephon Gilmore. The former Defensive Player of the Year is among the top cornerbacks still on the market, but a Carolina agreement may not be a lock at this point.

Joe Person of The Athletic notes there has been “no movement” between team and player in the Gilmore situation (subscription required). That has remained the case for weeks, he adds, meaning nothing is imminent regarding a deal being struck. Carolina traded away Donte Jackson in the Diontae Johnson deal, and the team lost C.J. Henderson and Shaquill Griffin during free agency.

That created a few vacancies on the CB depth chart, although Dane Jackson was added on a two-year deal. That move still had the Panthers set up to use a high draft pick on a corner, but instead the team’s only rookie addition was fifth-rounder Chau Smith-Wade. As a result, the Panthers may still be in the market for an addition in the post-draft wave of free agency.

Gilmore spent the 2021 season in Carolina, with his campaign being limited to nine games. In spite of the missed time, he still added a fifth Pro Bowl to his resume that year, and he remained a full-time starter while subsequently playing for the Colts and Cowboys. The 33-year-old expressed a desire to re-sign in Dallas earlier this offseason, but it remains to be seen if the feeling is mutual.

Carolina currently has just over $8MM in cap space, some of which will be needed to sign the team’s draft class. That will still leave sufficient funds to make a somewhat notable addition late in free agency, and Gilmore could remain a target on a low-cost arrangement. With the sides apparently not in discussion, however, it would come as a surprise if a deal were to come together in the near future. Aside from Gilmore, other free agent cornerback options include J.C. JacksonSteven NelsonAdoree’ Jackson and Patrick Peterson.