Collin Duncan

Panthers Cut QB Jake Luton, 10 Others

The Panthers have a few more days until they need to reduce their roster to 53 players, but the front office has already started the process. The team announced that they’ve waived the following 11 player:

While none of these cuts are particularly surprising, there are still some notable players in the bunch. As NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets, the Panthers may be starting the process early and trying to tempt another squad to make a waiver claim, which would improve Carolina’s spot in the rankings.

Considering his position, Luton is one of the bigger names on the list. The quarterback hasn’t seen the field for a regular season game since he was winless in three starts with the Jaguars in 2020, but he’s still had backup gigs over the past few years, with the QB having also spent time with the Seahawks, Dolphins, and Saints. The former sixth-round pick joined the Panthers back in July.

Wright will surely find himself in the kicker rolodex once teams get hit with injuries. He was the Jaguars’ (mostly) full-time kicker in 2021, connecting on 87.5 percent of his field goal attempts and 86.7 percent of his extra point tries. He split the 2022 campaign between the Chiefs and Steelers, converting 15 of his 18 FGAs and all 15 of his XPAs.

Earlier today, head coach Frank Reich told reporters that the organization was going to have some difficult decisions to make before Tuesday’s roster deadline. As of today, the Panthers still have to cut 26 players.

“Literally every position has battles in place, not just for the roster, but you know, play time, who’s starting, how we’re looking at things,” Reich said (via the team’s website). “But the good news is they’re hard decisions, right? Because we feel good about the guys we have on our roster.”

Panthers Place WR Damiere Byrd On IR

Returning to the Panthers this offseason, Damiere Byrd no longer appears in the team’s plans. The Panthers placed the veteran wide receiver on IR on Wednesday.

The team moved Byrd off its 90-man roster in order to sign defensive back Collin Duncan, a rookie out of Mississippi State. Byrd suffered what Frank Reich called a significant hamstring injury, one that will sideline the well-traveled pass catcher for at least eight weeks. Byrd will require surgery, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets.

With the Panthers moving Byrd to IR now, only an injury settlement — which would relocate him from Carolina’s IR to free agency — would allow him to play this year. Byrd could resurface once recovered from this malady, but he will be on the shelf for an extended period. Waiting on Byrd to recover — ahead of a potential in-season IR stay — would have required Carolina to use one of its 53-man roster spots. Instead, Byrd is out of the picture.

The Panthers, who rostered the 5-foot-9 speedster from 2016-18, brought him back on a one-year, $1.32MM deal that included just $153K guaranteed. Since leaving Charlotte back in 2019, Byrd had been with the Cardinals, Patriots, Bears and Falcons. He spent one season with each team over the past four years but was competing for a backup role with the Panthers.

With Carolina readying to use Adam Thielen, DJ Chark and Jonathan Mingo as its starters, Byrd was battling for one of the team’s final receiving spots. Terrace Marshall is assured of a job, with Laviska Shenault likely still in the team’s plans as well. Byrd, 30, averaged 20.8 yards per catch last season (13/268) with the Falcons last year. His best year came in New England, when Cam Newton — Byrd’s QB during his first Carolina stint — targeted him regularly during a 47-catch, 604-yard season.

Minor NFL Transactions: 6/15/23

Today’s minor transactions:

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Rams

New York Giants

  • Signed: DT Kobe Smith
  • Waived/injured: WR/TE Dre Miller

Greg Mabin is the biggest name on the list, with the cornerback having appeared in 45 career games. The former UDFA has spent the past two seasons with the Titans, collecting 23 tackles in 11 total games. The Panthers have gotten an extended look at their cornerback depth during minicamp with Jaycee Horn (ankle) and Donte Jackson (Achilles) sidelined, so the team has probably decided they needed some veteran reinforcement at the position.

Javon Wims will now be looking for another opportunity after getting cut by the Cardinals. The former seventh-round pick showed a bit of a potential with the Bears, including a 2019 campaign where he had 18 catches for 186 yards and one touchdown. After getting into 13 games with the Bears in 2020, the wideout has only seen time in one game over the past two seasons. He spent most of the 2022 campaign on Arizona’s practice squad.

Rams Sign 26-Man UDFA Class

The Rams continue adding to a massive rookie class. After drafting 14 prospects last weekend, Los Angeles has announced the signing of a prodigious 26 undrafted free agents:

With former kicker Matt Gay now residing in Indianapolis, the Rams have resolved to a kicking competition between Brown and Dunn. Brown had a stellar year with the Cowboys converting 22 of 23 field goal attempts and making all 42 of his extra points. Dunn had an even better 2022, rebounding after 5 missed field goals in 2020 and six misses in 2021. He converted 28 of 29 field goal attempts in 2022 and, over five years with the Wolfpack, never missed one of his 200 extra point attempts.

Gay wasn’t the only special teamer Los Angeles lost. After losing Matthew Orzech to the Packers in free agency, the Rams will give Ward a run at the position. After drafting punter Ethan Evans in the seventh round, Los Angeles is set to have a full rookie special teams unit.

Winn joins the quarterback room behind Matthew Stafford, Stetson Bennett, and Brett Rypien. He threw for nearly 3,000 yards as a sixth-year senior for the Skyhawks with 18 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. The Rams also signed Burmeister, a former starting quarterback at Virginia Tech who transferred to the other coast. Based on his listing with the Rams, he’ll be attempting to switch positions in the NFL.

With only eight linebackers under contract in a base 3-4 defense, the Rams supplemented heavily from the rookie class, drafting three and signing five more undrafted. They similarly added some significant depth at defensive back, drafting two and signing eight more undrafted.

The Rams have a substantial 40 rookies occupying roster spots on the current 90-man roster (which only holds 89 players as of right now). This seems to be a bit emblematic of the Rams recent all-in strategy that resulted in a Super Bowl but left them with a top-heavy roster with hefty contracts. Regardless, it presents many young rookies with clear opportunities for roster spots and playing time.