Austin Corbett

Panthers Move Austin Corbett To C; Brady Christensen In Mix At Position

Injuries disrupted the Panthers’ guard plans over the past two seasons. The Austin CorbettBrady Christensen tandem’s two-year run involved a combined four season-ending injuries, and Carolina’s free agency plan ensured neither would be in position to start at guard again.

The team gave Robert Hunt a five-year, $100MM deal and brought in Damien Lewis on a four-year, $53MM pact. The ex-Dolphins and Seahawks blockers are in place at guard, displacing Corbett and Christensen. The Panthers’ release of Bradley Bozeman cleared a path at center, however, and Corbett is the clubhouse leader to commandeer the gig.

You know, just scrolling in my phone, and here comes free agency, and I said, ‘Oh, there’s a guard,'” Corbett said, via Panthers.com’s Darin Gantt. “And I figured, OK, and then it’s like, ‘Oh, we got another one.’ There you go. Well, I guess it leaves me on the inside. I just talk too much anyway. So it was inevitable. I was going to end up in there at some point in my career.”

Panthers GM Dan Morgan confirmed Corbett is “progressing well” at center. The former Browns second-round pick has been a full-time guard starter dating back to the 2019 season, when the Rams moved him into their lineup following a midseason trade. Corbett, 28, has never made a snap at center in an NFL game. He was a four-year tackle starter (three years at left tackle, one at RT) at Nevada, making this an interesting “best five”-based plan from the Panthers.

Corbett signed a three-year, $26.25MM deal in 2022 — the team’s final Matt Rhule-run offseason — and has $2MM in guaranteed 2024 salary. The seventh-year veteran suffered a torn ACL during the Panthers’ 2022 season finale, leading to a reserve/PUP list stay in 2023. An MCL injury in November of last year shelved Corbett during what became the Panthers worst season in 22 years. Christensen, who sustained a broken ankle in that damaging Week 18 game in New Orleans, completed a successful rehab effort to return by Week 1 of last season. But a biceps injury sidelined the BYU alum for the Panthers’ final 16 games last year.

Moved from tackle to guard in 2022, Christensen has made 24 NFL starts. Morgan confirmed the 2021 third-rounder will see center reps, potentially creating a competition between the two supplanted guards for the pivot role.

Last season marked a rough year for Carolina’s O-line, with neither of the team’s tackles (Ikem Ekwonu and Taylor Moton) playing well. With both tackles back and the Hunt-Lewis duo entrenched, the Panthers only have room for one of the two benched guards in their 2024 lineup.

I think he’s progressing well, and I think Dave (Canales) would say the same thing,” Morgan said (via SI.com) of Corbett. “I think him, along with Brady Christensen, you know, he’s been getting some snaps at center. You know, we feel like he has a lot of potential there as well. We feel good about it, but we are always going to be looking to challenge our roster and get better and create that competition. We’re not going to leave anything — we’re not going to close the door on bringing somebody else in as well.”

Austin Corbett Lands On IR; Panthers G To Miss Rest Of Season

Austin Corbett spent much of this year rehabbing an ACL tear. The veteran Panthers guard returned before the midseason point, coming off the reserve/PUP list. But he will finish the season with another injury designation.

The Panthers placed Corbett on IR on Wednesday. Another knee malady will sideline him. Corbett sustained another injury to his left knee, though Panthers.com’s Darin Gantt confirmed this issue is not ACL-related. But Corbett’s season is done. The veteran blocker indicated he suffered an MCL injury.

Corbett’s 2023 campaign will wrap after four games. While the sixth-year guard spent most of this year rehabbing the ACL tear he suffered in Week 18 of last season, he exited the 2022 slate having not missed a start since 2019. The Panthers have played most of this season without their starting left guard, Brady Christensen.

The Panthers gave Corbett a three-year, $26.25MM deal in March 2022. This led Corbett from Los Angeles to Charlotte; a productive Rams tenure created a midlevel market for the former Browns second-round pick. Corbett started 57 consecutive games from 2019-22, becoming a key cog for two playoff-bound Rams teams in that span. Moved into Los Angeles’ lineup shortly after an in-season trade in 2019, Corbett later started all four Rams postseason games during the team’s 2021 Super Bowl LVI charge.

Carolina did not play a game with both its starting guards this season, with Christensen going down with a biceps injury in Week 1. The Panthers did not activate Corbett until Oct. 24, completing an odyssey that began in January. Christensen suffered a broken ankle in that damaging season finale in New Orleans but was ready to go by training camp. Corbett, 28, suffering a second injury to his left knee will make him a cut candidate in 2024.

Corbett is tied to a $10MM cap number next season, the final year of his contract. No guarantees remain on the deal. With the Corbett-Christensen tandem assembled during Matt Rhule‘s run as head coach, it would make sense to see Carolina explore alternatives — especially after Corbett’s recent run of bad luck. Then again, the Panthers retained their offensive line coach — James Campen — to work with Frank Reich. And Reich’s status, despite being hired this year, is very much in doubt for 2024.

Carolina also placed cornerback Dicaprio Bootle on IR. Picked up this summer after the Chiefs waived him, Bootle started in two Panthers games and played in eight for the 1-9 team.

Panthers Place S Jeremy Chinn, OLB Yetur Gross-Matos On IR, Activate G Austin Corbett

Coming out of their bye week, the Panthers have made a number of injury-related moves. The team announced on Tuesday that safety Jeremy Chinn and pass rusher Yetur Gross-Matos have been placed on injured reserve. The same is true of tight end/special teamer Giovanni Ricci.

As a result of the move, all three players will be forced to miss at least four weeks. In Chinn’s case, a quadriceps injury is expected to keep him sidelined for longer than that, so today’s move comes as no surprise. The 25-year-old is in the final year of his contract, but the injury likely took him off the board with respect to trade interest from outside teams.

Gross-Matos is dealing with a hamstring injury which has been deemed serious enough to interrupt an encouraging season. The former second-rounder has posted 2.5 sacks through six games, only one short of matching his career high. He has added three tackles for loss and six quarterback pressures despite seeing a drop in playing time compared to last year. Starters Brian Burns and Justin Houston will be counted on more heavily in the edge department given Gross-Matos’ absence. Ricci has a shoulder injury, per ESPN’s David Newton.

In more positive news, the Panthers activated guard Austin Corbett from the PUP list. This marked the final week of his 21-day return window, so today’s move was needed to avoid having him revert to season-ending IR. The 28-year-old suffered an ACL tear in Week 18 last year, and has been rehabbing ever since. His return will be welcomed on an offensive line which has used three different starters at both left and right guard this season. Corbett indicated (via Newton) that he may not suit up for Week 8 despite being brought back onto the roster. That move will did use up any of Carolina’s seven remaining IR activations, but bringing back Chinn, Gross-Matos and Ricci will.

To fill the other roster spots opened up by the IR moves, the Panthers have signed edge rusher Luiji Vilain off the Vikings’ practice squad. The 25-year-old Canadian has made four regular season appearances since signing in Minnesota as a UDFA. Likewise, Carolina has added offensive lineman Brett Toth from the Eagles’ taxi squad. The latter has made one start across his 17 total games played, all with Philadelphia.

Panthers Designate G Austin Corbett For Return

This week doubles as the earliest window teams can designate players on injured lists for return. The Panthers will do so with one of their starting guards.

Austin Corbett returned to Panthers practice Wednesday, the team announced. Corbett suffered a torn ACL in Week 18 last season, leading him to the reserve/PUP list, and was never a candidate to start the season on time. But the Panthers are close to having the 2022 free agency pickup back in their lineup.

The 0-4 Panthers are attempting to develop Bryce Young, but they have been without both their starting guards for most of the season. Left guard Brady Christensen suffered a season-ending biceps injury in Week 1. The Panthers have started Cade Mays and rookie Chandler Zavala in place of their ailing starters.

Carolina intends to proceed cautiously with Corbett, Frank Reich said Wednesday. It would not surprise to see Carolina use multiple weeks to get its right guard starter ready, and Corbett suggested (via ESPN’s David Newton) a return might not take place until after the team’s Week 7 bye. The Panthers have 21 days from Wednesday to activate Corbett. Not doing so would result in a trip to season-ending IR. With Corbett on the PUP list, he does not count against the Panthers’ eight allotted IR activations.

Both Corbett and Christensen went down in the Panthers’ 2022 season finale, with the former suffering the worse injury. Christensen made it back from his broken ankle to start in Week 1 but went down after a handful of snaps. Christensen’s rookie contract runs through next season; Corbett’s three-year, $26.25MM deal goes through 2024 as well.

The Panthers rank 24th in scoring offense and 25th in yardage, being one of two teams to sit 0-4. The team had made a big commitment up front, returning all five of its O-line starters from last season. The Panthers were largely healthy up front last year, until the very end, but have been dealt some bad breaks to start the Reich-Young partnership. Corbett joins Taylor Moton and the recently re-signed Bradley Bozeman as veteran contracts on Carolina’s front. The former Super Bowl LVI starter, who showcased good form in 2022 before his injury, will have a chance to bounce back in the near future.

Panthers Reduce Roster To 53

The Panthers cut down their roster to 53 players today, but in the process, they ruled out a key offensive lineman for at least a month:

Released:

Waived:

Placed on PUP:

Placed on IR:

Austin Corbett continues to rehab from a torn ACL and has been sitting on PUP throughout the preseason. The transaction means the starting guard can’t be activated to the active roster until Week 5, but he may need longer to get into form. NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe tweets that the team is hoping to have him back midway through the season. Rookie Chandler Zavala will likely slide into the starting lineup while Corbett is sidelined.

Eric Rowe has 100 games of experience in stints with the Eagles, Patriots, and Dolphins. He’s spent the past four seasons in Miami, starting 39 of his 63 appearances. This included a 2022 campaign where he got into 14 games (six starts), finishing with 56 tackles and a pair of sacks. The two-time Super Bowl champ joined the Panthers back in April.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/22/23

Saturday’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

Green Bay Packers

Jacksonville Jaguars

New York Jets

Tennessee Titans

The Corbett news comes as no surprise, given the expectation from the spring that he would miss time in the regular season. The Panthers’ starting right guard suffered an ACL tear during the 2022 season finale, making him a candidate for a reserve/PUP designation. That would sideline him for at least four contests, so it is encouraging Carolina has elected instead to use the active designation, from which players can be activated at any time during camp.

Signed to provide last-minute offensive line help for the Jets last season, Brown played 12 games on the blindside last season while battling a shoulder ailment. Despite Mekhi Becton being healthy this offseason, the 37-year-old is the favorite to hold down the LT role for New York as the team looks to improve its pass protection at the start of the Aaron Rodgers era. If healthy in time for the spring, Brown will play a large role in determining their success on that front.

Farley’s brief NFL career has seen a continuation of his injury concerns dating back to college. The 2021 first-rounder saw a herniated disk end his season in December. He underwent surgery to address the issue, and the team may feel the need to proceed with caution given his potentially sizeable role with the Titans’ secondary. Radunz continues to recover from the ACL tear which likewise ended his second campaign in Nashville late in the regular season.

NFC South Rumors: Alford, Mays, Saints

In January 2022, the Falcons signed cornerback Dee Alford out of the Canadian Football League to a reserve/futures contract. A year and a half later, Alford could be pushing for a starting role, according to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein.

After going undrafted out of Tusculum, Alford signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL in 2020 but didn’t get to play after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the season. When the team returned in 2021, Alford won a starting job and helped lead the Bombers to their second consecutive Grey Cup title.

Following his signing in the offseason, Alford defied the odds by making the 53-man roster. Alford served as a depth piece in the Falcons secondary for much of the year but did come up with a few big plays. In a Week 2 loss to the Rams, Alford gained his team two points with a safety. Two weeks later, he recorded a game-clinching interception over the Browns.

According to Rothstein, Alford has been rising in the offseason for Atlanta. In spring practices, Alford reportedly “took the vast majority of first-team reps at slot (cornerback).” Mike Hughes was the presumed starter at nickelback heading into the offseason, but Alford is making himself hard to ignore as he pushes for a starting role.

Here are a few other rumors coming out of the NFC South:

  • A sixth-round pick for the Panthers last year, Cade Mays may find himself in a bit of a larger role than last year to start the 2023 season, according to Joseph Person of The Athletic. With starting right guard Austin Corbett still recovering from an ACL repair surgery, Mays has reportedly stepped up this offseason. While his rookie year saw him block out of the backfield in short-yardage situations, Mays is in line to begin the season as a starter at right guard for Carolina.
  • The Saints are no strangers to injuries in the past few years. They are feeling it the worst this season in the wide receiving corps, where we got some recent updates from Terrin Waack of nola.com. Michael Thomas‘s woes continued thanks to toe surgery that landed him on injured reserve last year. He’s “slowly but surely” working his way back but is, reportedly, “still not full-go.” Last year’s rookie sensation Chris Olave missed the end of minicamp with an inflamed Achilles tendon but is expected to be okay. The other rookie from last year, Rashid Shaheed, suffered a groin injury in organized team activities that held him out of minicamp. He’s also expected to be fine by the time camp rolls around.

Panthers’ Austin Corbett To Miss Regular-Season Time; Brady Christensen On Track For Week 1

Big-picture changes have taken place in Carolina this offseason, but the team is planning to place Bryce Young behind the same offensive line that protected Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold in 2022. But that configuration will not be in place to start the year.

Austin Corbett suffered an ACL tear during the Panthers’ Week 18 game in New Orleans, and Frank Reich said the expectation is the 2022 free agency pickup will not be ready in time for the season opener. In better news for the Panthers, David Newton of ESPN.com notes Brady Christensen — the other guard who suffered a major injury (a broken ankle) in Week 18 — is on track to be ready for the 2023 opener.

The Panthers gave Corbett a three-year, $26.25MM deal last year; after making every start for the Rams from 2020-21, Corbett did the same for the Panthers last season. His inability to make it through Week 18 unscathed could lead to a stay on the reserve/PUP list come August. Such a placement would shelve Corbett for at least four games next season, though the team could also keep the former second-rounder on its active roster and go week-to-week regarding a return window.

The Panthers factored the likely Corbett early-season absence into their draft, with Newton adding fourth-rounder Chandler Zavala is the most likely first-string fill-in opposite Christensen. After four years at Division II Fairmont State, Zavala transferred to NC State in 2021. He earned first-team All-ACC acclaim at guard as a sixth-year senior.

Carolina’s Ikem Ekwonu first-round pick last year led to Christensen sliding to guard on a full-time basis, and he started all 17 games. The BYU product went down six plays into the Saints rematch, but his injury ended up being slightly less severe than Corbett’s. Pro Football Focus rated Corbett as a top-20 guard last season but slotted Christensen 55th at the position. He and Corbett are signed through 2024.

Just as the Panthers dropped Pat Elflein, they re-signed center Bradley Bozeman to round out their O-line quintet. Carolina may also be eyeing more continuity up front, per Newton, who notes Cameron Erving may well remain on the radar as a swing option behind Ekwonu and longtime right tackle Taylor Moton. Erving signed a two-year, $10MM deal in 2021 and started all nine games he played for the Panthers that year. Despite Erving not being the one to stop the Panthers’ longtime left tackle merry-go-round, he appears to be under consideration for a second Carolina contract.

NFL Restructures: Saints, Corbett, Grant, Eagles

The Saints restructured two contracts yesterday in an effort towards salary cap compliance, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. Both linebacker Demario Davis and tight end Taysom Hill have agreed to the new arrangements to lower their cap hit next season.

Davis is under contract through the 2025 season, Hill through 2026. Davis had another stellar season for the Saints in 2022. Since joining the team in 2018, he’s missed one game and been a first- or second-team All-Pro in every season but his first in New Orleans. The team converted $7.09MM of base salary for the 34-year-old’s 2023 season into a signing bonus, clearing $5.67MM in cap space off of his contract. He now holds a cap hit next year of $7.61MM with a base salary of $1.17MM.

Hill had another productive year as a Swiss-army weapon for New Orleans. The quarterback/tight end continued to show a much larger impact rushing than receiving but steeply declined in his passing numbers this year. The team converted $8.82MM of base salary for the 32-year-old’s 2023 season into a signing bonus, clearing $7.06MM in cap space off of his contract. He now holds a cap hit next year of $6.87MM with a base salary of $1.08MM.

The team still has several avenues it can explore to create cap space. Defensive end Cameron Jordan ($25.7MM), cornerback Marshon Lattimore ($22.4MM), guard Andrus Peat ($18.3MM), running back Alvin Kamara ($16MM), and quarterback Jameis Winston ($15.6MM) all hold cap hits over $15MM that could likely be restructured.

Here are few other recent moves as teams strive towards cap compliance:

  • After signing a three-year, $26.25MM contract a year ago, guard Austin Corbett has agreed to a restructured deal with the Panthers, according to Panthers staff writer Darin Gantt. Corbett contributed to a much-improved offensive line this season, starting all 17 games before suffering a torn ACL in the team’s last game of the year. The 28-year-old is working towards a return spending every day at the facility in recovery. Yates of ESPN reports that the team converted $7.72MM, consisting of his base salary and a $1MM roster bonus, into a signing bonus, freeing up $5.79MM in cap space. Corbert now holds a 2023 salary of $1.08MM and a cap hit of $5.16MM.
  • Yates’s above report on Corbett also mentioned the Browns recent restructuring of wide receiver and return-specialist Jakeem Grant. Grant missed the 2022 season with a torn Achilles tendon after signing a three-year, $10MM contract in the offseason. The renegotiated deal for Grant reportedly reduces his cap hit by $1.77MM.
  • Eagles center Jason Kelce is currently headed towards free agency or, potentially, retirement. Still, since Philadelphia has a habit of building voidable years into contracts in an effort to lessen the salary cap burden of deals, the team found it necessary to decrease that financial burden that Kelce’s expiring contract has on their future. According to yet another report by Yates, the Eagles paid Kelce a $3MM bonus yesterday, consisting of his $2.75MM 2023 roster bonus and $250,000 2023 offseason bonus, to reduce his 2023 cap hit. The move reportedly cleared up around $2.4MM of cap space for Philadelphia next season.

Panthers Guards Brady Christensen, Austin Corbett Facing Injuries In Offseason

Carolina was hoping to still be playing football at this point in the season. However, after injuries to starting guards Brady Christensen and Austin Corbett that would have held them out of the playoffs, the Panthers will not be faced with the prospect of replacing 40-percent of their offensive line in only a week. Both linemen played every snap of the season for Carolina until lower body injuries took each of them out in the team’s win over New Orleans yesterday.

After a rookie season that saw the former third-round pick spot-start as a backup, Christensen took his opportunity to become a full-time starter this season and ran with it. While Christensen’s below-average run blocking kept him from grading out as a top guard in the league, his pass blocking ability graded out in the top half of NFL starting guards, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

The big-bodied guard broke his left ankle only six snaps into the team’s season finale, according to Joe Person of The Athletic. Person reported that “an MRI exam would determine whether (Christensen) would need surgery,” but there’s confidence that he will be ready to go in time for training camp.

The veteran, Corbett, was a newcomer on Carolina’s offensive line this year after signing as a free agent in March but immediately became a strength alongside right tackle Taylor Moton. Corbett graded out as the league’s 19th-best offensive guard, thanks to an impressive pass blocking grade.

Corbett’s injury was a bit more severe than his teammate’s. In an attempt to tackle Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu during an interception return, Corbett’s foot got caught in the artificial turf leading to a torn ACL, according to ESPN’s David Newton. Corbett’s recovery will likewise take a bit more time than Christensen’s. After undergoing surgery to repair the torn ligament, Corbett will strive to make it back to the field in time for the 2023 season.

The two are likely expected to resume their starting jobs once healthy, as both are under contract through the 2024 season, but the injuries could cause Carolina to seek some depth this offseason for the interior line. After a remarkably healthy season for their offensive line, the offseason poses the challenge of health for the Panthers’ big men.