Dane Jackson

Latest On Panthers’ CB Situation

The Panthers have a vacancy at the cornerback spot for the time being, with Donte Jackson having been traded to the Steelers for Diontae Johnson and C.J. Henderson departing in free agency. Carolina has since signed Dane Jackson, but another move could be coming relatively soon.

Carolina is interested in bringing back Stephon Gilmorewho had a one-year tenure with the team in 2021. That season was limited to eight games, but the former Defensive Player of the Year still managed to earn a Pro Bowl nod. Gilmore remained healthy during his subsequent campaigns with the Colts and Cowboys, and he is one of the top defensive free agents still on the market.

A new Dallas deal is on Gilmore’s radar, but the 33-year-old could see starting duties if he were to re-join the Panthers. Gilmore would play alongside Jadeveon Clowney in that event, as the former No. 1 pick joined Carolina last week. The two attended the same South Carolina high school, and that connection could help convince Gilmore to take on a Panthers deal. Short of that, though, the team could be in need of a rookie CB addition.

Joe Person of The Athletic predicts the Panthers will select a corner “fairly high” in the upcoming draft if Gilmore or no other veteran is not signed (subscription required). Carolina has Jaycee Horn in place as a starter for at least one more season; a decision on his fifth-year option will be made this spring. The former top-10 pick has battled injuries in his career, though, so a long-term investment in the secondary would come as little surprise.

Dane Jackson will play a part in the team’s efforts to improve against the pass, having signed a two-year deal in free agency. The 27-year-old was drafted when Panthers GM Dan Morgan was a member of Brandon Beane‘s Bills staff, and Person notes Morgan lobbied for Carolina to sign Jackson when he became available. Jackson is in line to serve as a slot starter on his new team, one which has undergone several changes on both sides of the ball this offseason.

Carolina ranked third against the pass in 2023, and the retention of defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero points to a repeat of that success being possible this season. At least one notable move at the CB spot will likely be required, however, whether it is a reunion with Gilmore or an early emphasis on the position in the draft.

NFC South Notes: Cousins, Falcons, Ramczyk, Saints, Davis, Evans, Panthers

The Falcons are under investigation for tampering during their Kirk Cousins pursuit. Cousins said during his Falcons intro presser he spoke with the team’s trainer ahead of his official signing, which would be a violation. Cousins may well have revealed another tampering violation, indicating (via Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio) he offered to call Darnell Mooney to help close the Falcons’ pitch to the former Bears wide receiver. Mooney committed to the Falcons on Day 2 of the tampering period. With Cousins’ deal not yet official at that point, such recruitment on behalf of the team would be a violation as well.

None of this will result in the Falcons losing Cousins, but a fine and/or a draft choice being stripped would be in play if the team is found to have violated the tampering policy (albeit during a stretch referred to as the legal tampering period). Given the multiple issues here, the Falcons certainly run the risk of being punished.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • In a division with two of the league’s restructure mavens, the Panthers are hoping to avoid such moves under new GM Dan Morgan. The former Carolina assistant GM said (via The Athletic’s Joe Person) he will aim to avoid kicking the can down the road in the form of restructures. Teams have turned to restructures more in the 2020s, as the larger cap spikes have helped clubs manage the bigger cap hits down the road, but both the Buccaneers and Saints have needed to take some medicine at points this decade due to restructures.
  • Having said that, the Panthers did reach a restructure agreement with Shaq Thompson to both create cap space and retain their longest-tenured player. This will reduce the 10th-year linebacker’s base salary to $3.1MM and clear around $3MM in cap space, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweets. Headed into his age-30 season, Thompson is coming off a two-game campaign halted by a fractured fibula. He is now on the Panthers’ cap sheet at $3.19MM.
  • Ryan Ramczyk finished last season on IR due to a knee injury that he admitted bothered him for nearly the entire season. A cartilage defect in his knee also brought some ominous comments from the standout right tackle, but he is on track to play an eighth season with the Saints. Ramczyk underwent what Dennis Allen (via NOLA.com’s Matthew Paras) labeled a minor knee procedure; he is expected to be ready for training camp. Additionally, Ramczyk agreed to a reworked contract that guarantees him $6.5MM this season, ESPN’s Field Yates tweets. Ramcyzk’s 2021 extension previously had no guarantees left, but it called for a $27MM 2024 cap number. This reworking brought that down to $12.9MM, and NewOrleans.football’s Mike Triplett refers to it as a significant pay cut. Ramczyk is signed through 2026, but no guarantees are due beyond 2024.
  • The Saints also brought James Hurst‘s cap number down from $6.5MM to $2.9MM, NewOrleans.football’s Nick Underhill tweets. Two void years are present in Hurst’s deal, but the veteran O-lineman, who has been needed to start over the past three seasons, is due for free agency in 2025.
  • New Orleans’ latest Demario Davis contract (two years, $17.25MM) will bring $13.25MM in guarantees, ESPN.com’s Katherine Terrell tweets. The team is guaranteeing $2.5MM of Davis’ $6.5MM 2025 base salary, with Terrell adding a $1.75MM roster bonus will be due next year. That roster bonus will be key in determining if Davis plays the 2025 season in New Orleans; the new deal dropped Davis’ 2024 cap hit from $18.1MM to $6.2MM.
  • Not quite as prolific as the Saints on the restructure front, the Buccaneers have been aggressive here since the Tom Brady signing. Tampa Bay has already restructured Mike Evans‘ deal, per MLFootball, with his $21.8MM roster bonus into a signing bonus. This freed up $17.4MM in cap space, which the Bucs put to good use as they re-signed Baker Mayfield and Lavonte David following the application of Antoine Winfield Jr.‘s franchise tag.
  • The PanthersDane Jackson contract is for two years and worth $8.5MM in base value, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson tweets. While this NFL period has featured Carolina-to-Buffalo moves, the veteran cornerback will make the reverse trip and do so for $5.12MM guaranteed. The guarantees cover $1MM of Jackson’s 2025 base salary ($3.74MM).

Panthers To Sign CB Dane Jackson

Dane Jackson will not stay in Buffalo on a second contract. The free agent corner has agreed to a deal with the Panthers, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports.

Carolina was prepared to move on from veteran corner Donte Jackson by releasing him. Instead, a trade with the Steelers was worked out which will see the team acquire Diontae Johnson in exchange for Jackson. In need of a starting-caliber replacement in the secondary, Dane Jackson will provide an intriguing option on that front.

The latter will receive up to $14.5MM on a two-year deal, Pelissero adds. Given those terms, Jackson will be counted on as a starter with Carolina. The former seventh-rounder started a total of 28 games across his four seasons in Buffalo. That figure includes 14 starts in 2020, a season in which he recorded two interceptions and 12 pass deflections.

The 27-year-old saw his defensive snap share drop to 50% last season, and his ball production suffered as a result. Jackson also endured the worst season of his career with respect to coverage performance in 2023. He allowed a 74.3% completion percentage and a passer rating of 109.6 as the nearest defender. While Jackson drew a career-high PFF grade in coverage, improvement in his overall play will no doubt be a goal for the Panthers.

Buffalo moved on from Tre’Davious White earlier this month, and the team also cut veteran safety Jordan Poyer in a cost-shedding move. Jackson’s departure will add further to the turnover seen in the Bills’ secondary. The Panthers, meanwhile, will seek to use Jackson as a first-teamer opposite Jaycee Horn moving forward as they look to replicate their strong play against the pass from last season.

Bills Announce Winners Of Position Battles

The Bills have been monitoring a number of position battles this preseason and, with tomorrow night’s season-opener approaching, it’s about time we learned who the winners are. Head coach Sean McDermott spoke with the media and let them know just who’s going to be starting against the Jets on Monday Night Football.

The only job that went as was predicted was right guard, where, according to Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News, rookie second-round pick O’Cyrus Torrence has earned the starting nod over incumbent starter Ryan Bates. Bates got his first action as a full-time starter last season, playing in 15 games, and while he’s performed admirably for Buffalo over the years, Bates has never been considered a top option at the position. Now, the rookie out of Florida will get a chance to line up between center Mitch Morse and right tackle Spencer Brown, while Bates will serve as a primary backup at all three interior offensive line spots.

In a huge shock on defense, last year’s sixth-round draft pick Christian Benford has won the starting outside cornerback position opposite veteran Tre’Davious White, per ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg. Benford did start five games last year for the Bills as a rookie, but the 22-year-old was certainly not a favorite to win the starting job this season.

Buffalo really hoped to see last year’s first-round pick Kaiir Elam take control of the position in 2023. Elam started six games in 13 appearances as a rookie but failed to stake his claim as a permanent starter heading into his sophomore season. Benford also had to beat out incumbent starter Dane Jackson, who started 14 games at the position last year. Everything pointed to one of Jackson or Elam starting with White this season, but Benford beat the odds and will line up with the first-team defense tomorrow.

Finally, on the defensive side of the ball, Terrel Bernard has joined Benford as a surprise winner of a starting gig, earning the honors of starting at middle linebacker next to veteran Matt Milano, according to Skurski. Another draft pick from the 2022 Draft, Bernard beat out presumed favorite Tyrel Dodson for the starting job left vacant by the exit of Tremaine Edmunds in free agency.

Dodson has started five games over his first three seasons in the league but has really only come in on rare occasions on defense or for special teams. Despite not winning the starting job, Dodson should still get plenty of run as he and Tyler Matakevich are the only healthy backup linebackers on the roster. Bernard, though, will be the one to take the field with the first-team defense alongside Milano and third-round rookie Dorian Williams.

There you have it. A couple of surprises join with an expected result to put three young players in the starting lineup for tomorrow night’s game. Torrence will get a chance to start in his NFL debut, while Benford and Bernard will take the step up into starting roles to begin their sophomore seasons.

DB Rumors: Elam, Panthers, Bolts, Bucs

The Bills have hoped to plug Kaiir Elam into their starting lineup opposite Tre’Davious White, but the 2022 first-rounder remains in a position battle. Elam is battling 2022 sixth-rounder Christian Benford and veteran Dane Jackson for the boundary job opposite White, Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Elam played 477 defensive snaps as a rookie, but even as White did not debut until Thanksgiving, the younger Buffalo Round 1 corner only started six games. Benford started five of the nine he played, while Jackson led Bills corners with 14 first-string appearances in 2022. The Bills would clearly prefer Elam seize the role, but for now, the Washington product has not distinguished himself as a surefire starter.

Here is the latest from NFL secondaries:

  • Asante Samuel Jr. resides in a similar boat, needing to fend off a lower-profile challenger. Thus far, it appears Samuel has fallen behind Ja’Sir Taylor for the Chargers‘ slot cornerback role. As it appeared in June, Taylor looks to be the favorite to open the season as the Bolts’ slot player, Daniel Popper of The Athletic notes. Samuel’s shaky run defense has concerned the Bolts, per Popper, with Taylor — a 2022 sixth-round pick — seeing time ahead of the second-generation pro as an outside corner last year due to tackling ability. With primary 2022 slot defender Bryce Callahan unsigned, Taylor and Samuel are battling for the position. Despite Samuel’s experience (27 starts) and draft pedigree (Round 2), he may well open the season as the top backup behind a Taylor-J.C. JacksonMichael Davis trio. Having Samuel as a depth piece would certainly benefit the Chargers, with Jackson attempting to come back from a ruptured patellar tendon.
  • The Panthers have played without first-round pick Jaycee Horn for extended stretches, and the 2021 top-10 pick spent time rehabbing another injury this offseason. Horn did not say how he injured his foot this spring, but he is 100% early in Panthers camp. Ditto Donte Jackson, who missed eight games last season due to an Achilles tear. Both starting corners have received full clearance, GM Scott Fitterer said recently.
  • Although the Buccaneers have re-signed Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean in free agency over the past two years, they let Sean Murphy-Bunting leave in March. Murphy-Bunting, who had spent time in the slot in Tampa Bay, left for Tennessee. The Bucs are holding an expansive slot competition in training camp. Zyon McCollum, Dee Delaney, Josh Hayes, Christian Izien and Anthony Chesley are all vying for the gig, Todd Bowles said (via Buccaneers.com’s Brianna Dix and Scott Smith). Delaney and Chesley have both bounced around the league, while Hayes and Izien are rookies. Some of these players will not end up on the Bucs’ 53-man roster, but it is interesting to see a five-man competition for this role. A 2022 fifth-round pick who played 277 defensive snaps last year, McCollum may have the lead here. Bowles expects the second-year cover man to play a big role in the nickel spot, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.

Bills Notes: Cook, Cornerback, Ateman, Coaching Staff

The Bills have done some work revamping their running back depth chart this offseason, but the team’s main holdover believes he’s ready to secure the starting gig. During an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show, James Cook made it clear that he’s ready to be the team’s top running back.

“Obviously, RB1,” Cook responded when asked about his role in 2023 (h/t Ryan Talbot of NewYorkUpstate.com). “So you know, just come in and do what I do. Change the game with my versatility. Catching the ball out of the backfield. Pass blocking. Just try to do what I can do to help the team win games and ultimately win the Super Bowl.”

The Georgia product was a second-round pick by the Bills last offseason and ended up getting into 16 games as a rookie. While he played second fiddle to Devin Singletary, Cook still finished the season with 687 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. Singletary is now out of the picture, although the Bills did bring in Damien Harris and Latavius Murray for some extra depth.

Even with the additions, Cook is confident that he’s prepared to be the starter, and the second-year player sounds like he’s ready to stand alongside his brother, Dalvin Cook, when it comes to the league’s top running backs.

“My goal is to be an All-Pro or Pro Bowler like my brother,” Cook said. “Hopefully be in the Pro Bowl with him one day.”

More notes out of Buffalo…

  • It’s uncertain who will start opposite Tre’Davious White at cornerback, but Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic believes the gig will ultimately come down to three players. Dane Jackson, Christian Benford, and 2022 first-round pick Kaiir Elam will “likely remain in a battle” for the CB2 gig once training camp opens, according to the writer. Buscaglia notes that the coaching staff has been adamant that the role won’t be influenced by contract or draft pedigree, meaning the competition is truly wide open for all three players.
  • The Bills added Marcell Ateman earlier this month, and Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets that the receiver inked a one-year, $940K deal. The wideout played for the St. Louis BattleHawks in the XFL this season, totaling 259 yards while not scoring a touchdown. The Oklahoma State product was a seventh-round pick by the Raiders in 2018, and he compiled 20 receptions for 270 yards and a touchdown through his first two seasons in the NFL. In Buffalo, he’s expected to be a special teamer and end-of-the-depth-chart option at WR.
  • The Bills announced yesterday (via Twitter) that they’ve promoted Eric Washington to assistant head coach/defensive line coach. The veteran coach joined the organization in 2020 as their DL coach, and he earned a promotion to senior defensive assistant before last season. He had previous stops with the Bears and Panthers, including a one-year stint as defensive coordinator in Carolina.
  • The Bills have some extra depth on the edge, meaning they could look to move on from one of their former second-round picks. Earlier today, our own Adam La Rose explored the trade candidacy of Carlos Basham Jr..

Minor NFL Transactions: 3/17/23

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league:

Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Green Bay Packers

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Washington Commanders


Board is a strong special teamer, signing a two-year, $5MM deal with New England, according to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. The contract reportedly includes incentives that can push the deal to a maximum value of $6.7MM.

Colon-Castillo reportedly visited the Falcons today, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. Despite the visit, he decided to sign with the Jets.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/15/23

Today’s tender decisions from around the NFL:






RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/14/23

Today’s tender decisions from around the NFL:






Bills Place CB Xavier Rhodes On P-Squad Injured List

The hits keep coming for the Bills’ secondary. Veteran cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who signed with Buffalo just a few days ago, has been placed on the team’s practice squad injured list (Twitter link via ESPN’s Field Yates). Head coach Sean McDermott said that Rhodes sustained a hamstring injury (Twitter link via Chris Brown of OneBillsLive).

Buffalo’s top corner, two-time Pro Bowler Tre’Davious White, began the season on the PUP list and will therefore miss at least one more game as he continues to recover from an ACL tear. Fellow starter Dane Jackson suffered a neck injury in Week 2, and rookie Christian Benford fractured his hand during last Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins. That is not to mention safety Micah Hyde‘s season-ending neck injury or safety Jordan Poyer‘s foot ailment, which kept him out of the Miami contest and which rendered him questionable for the Bills’ Week 4 matchup against the Ravens.

The practice squad injured list operates under the same rules as the injured reserve. In other words, Rhodes will be forced to miss at least the next four games, at which point there may no longer be a roster spot for him. Indeed, Jackson returned to practice this week and is expected to suit up for the Baltimore game, as Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic tweets. The hope is that White will return shortly, and while Benford will miss time, he could nonetheless beat Rhodes back to the field.

Furthermore, even though Rhodes is on the taxi squad injured list, his activation from that list would still count as one of the Bills’ eight “return from IR” designations. It is possible that the team would elect against using such a designation on a player that had minimal practice time and never appeared in a game.

Rhodes, therefore, could be a free agent again in a few weeks and could be of interest to another team in need of secondary depth.