Jaycee Horn

Panthers To Pick Up CB Jaycee Horn’s Fifth-Year Option

Injuries have marred Jaycee Horn‘s NFL career, and coaching instability has led to five HCs stopping through during the cornerback’s Charlotte run. This staff is still high on the 2021 top-10 pick.

Despite the health issues that have plagued Horn, he is set to see more guaranteed money. The Panthers are picking up Horn’s fifth-year option, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. Horn will be tied to the lowest rung on the option ladder; for corners, that number checks in at $12.47MM.

Horn’s option number comes in more than $8MM south of Patrick Surtain‘s. The Broncos chose Surtain one pick later in 2021 and have seen him soar to two Pro Bowls. The Panthers will benefit from Horn being tied to a lower 2025 guarantee, but they have yet to see him justify the Scott Fitterer-Matt Rhule investment. Current GM Dan Morgan did not rejoin the Panthers until after Horn was selected, making it interesting he will pull the trigger on the option for an injury-plagued talent.

Missing 29 games over his three-year Charlotte run, Horn has shown promise when available. Had Horn logged enough defensive snaps to qualify as a regular last season, Pro Football Focus would have ranked him sixth overall among corners. He ranked as a top-30 player by that measurement in 2022, a 13-game campaign. Horn missed 14 games as a rookie due to a broken foot and was shut down for 10 last year because of a hamstring injury.

The Panthers dealt away Donte Jackson from their CB cadre and signed ex-Bills starter Dane Jackson. Horn, however, remains that crew’s centerpiece performer. DC Ejiro Evero will count on Horn staying healthy this year, and Friday’s commitment reflects the Panthers believe the 6-foot-1 cover man is not a sunk cost. This gives the team two more seasons to evaluate Horn, who intercepted three passes in 2022. Horn also secures another eight-figure guarantee despite his bad luck on the health front thus far as a pro.

2025 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 2 to officially pick up fifth-year options on 2021 first-rounders. The 2020 CBA revamped the option structure and made them fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, fifth-year option salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement and performance- and usage-based benchmarks:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternates) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag
  • One-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag
  • Players who achieve any of the following will receive the average of the third-20th-highest salaries at their position:
    • At least a 75% snap rate in two of their first three seasons
    • A 75% snap average across all three seasons
    • At least 50% in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will receive the average of the third-25th top salaries at their position

With the deadline looming, we will use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

  1. QB Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars ($25.66MM): Exercised
  2. QB Zach Wilson, Broncos* ($22.41MM): Declined
  3. QB Trey Lance, Cowboys** ($22.41MM): Declined
  4. TE Kyle Pitts, Falcons ($10.88MM): Exercised
  5. WR Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals ($21.82MM): Exercised
  6. WR Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins ($15.59MM): Exercised
  7. T Penei Sewell, Lions ($19MM): Extended through 2029
  8. CB Jaycee Horn, Panthers ($12.47MM): Exercised
  9. CB Patrick Surtain, Broncos ($19.82MM): Exercised
  10. WR DeVonta Smith, Eagles ($15.59MM): Extended through 2028
  11. QB Justin Fields, Steelers*** ($25.66MM): Declined
  12. DE Micah Parsons, Cowboys ($21.32MM): Exercised
  13. T Rashawn Slater, Chargers ($19MM): Exercised
  14. OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, Jets ($13.31MM): Exercised
  15. QB Mac Jones, Jaguars**** ($25.66MM): Declined
  16. LB Zaven Collins, Cardinals ($13.25MM): Declined
  17. T Alex Leatherwood, Raiders: N/A
  18. LB Jaelan Phillips, Dolphins ($13.3MM): Exercised
  19. LB Jamin Davis, Commanders ($14.48MM): Declined
  20. WR Kadarius Toney, Chiefs***** ($14.35MM): Declined
  21. DE Kwity Paye, Colts ($13.4MM): Exercised
  22. CB Caleb Farley, Titans ($12.47MM): Declined
  23. T Christian Darrisaw, Vikings ($16MM): Exercised
  24. RB Najee Harris, Steelers ($6.79MM): Declined
  25. RB Travis Etienne, Jaguars ($6.14MM): Exercised
  26. CB Greg Newsome, Browns ($13.38MM): To be exercised
  27. WR Rashod Bateman, Ravens ($14.35MM): N/A; extended through 2026
  28. DE Payton Turner, Saints ($13.39MM): Declined
  29. CB Eric Stokes, Packers ($12.47MM): Declined
  30. DE Greg Rousseau, Bills ($13.39MM): Exercised
  31. LB Odafe Oweh, Ravens ($13.25MM): Exercised
  32. LB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, Buccaneers ($13.25MM): Declined

* = Jets traded Wilson on April 22, 2024
** = 49ers traded Lance on August 25, 2023
*** = Bears traded Fields on March 16, 2024
**** = Patriots traded Jones on March 10, 2024
***** = Giants traded Toney on October 27, 2022

Panthers To Activate CB Jaycee Horn From IR

Jaycee Horn is back on Carolina’s active roster. The Panthers are activating the cornerback from injured reserve, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

It’s uncertain if Horn will play tomorrow against the Buccaneers, and the defensive back was listed on questionable on Friday’s injury report. Either way, it sounds like the defensive back will be making his return sooner than later.

Horn suffered a hamstring injury against the Falcons in Week 1, keeping him off the field for months. He returned to practice in mid-November, and the Panthers had until Monday to activate the player from IR. If the team didn’t make the move, Horn would have been ineligible to return this year.

The former eighth-overall pick has dealt with a number of injuries throughout his career. He was limited to just three games as a rookie in 2021, and he was sidelined for another four contests last year. In total, Horn has appeared in 17 career games, totaling 59 tackles and four interceptions.

C.J. Henderson is set to return from concussion protocol for tomorrow’s game, per Mike Kaye of the Charlotte Observer. If Horn doesn’t play this weekend, Henderson will likely play opposite Donte Jackson on the outside, with Troy Hill sliding into his standard nickel spot. The Panthers claimed veteran Shaquill Griffin this week, providing the team with another body at the position.

Panthers Designate CB Jaycee Horn For Return, Activate TE Ian Thomas

NOVEMEBER 18: Horn will remain on injured reserve for now, but Thomas has been activated, per a team announcement. The latter will have a large role to play immediately upon return since Hurst is out with a concussion. Thomas will aim to give Carolina a needed complementary option in the passing game late in the year with the jobs of several members of the organization potentially on the line.

NOVEMBER 13: The Panthers have been hit hard on the injury front this season, but a pair of reinforcements are on the way. The team announced on Monday that cornerback Jaycee Horn and tight end Ian Thomas have returned to practice.

Both players’ 21-day activation windows have been opened as a result. They must be activated within that span to avoid reverting to season-ending injured reserve. Horn has been eligible to return for some time now, but it was clear when he was initially placed on IR that a lengthy absence would be coming. A hamstring injury has kept the 23-year-old sidelined since Week 1.

Horn named remaining healthy as a key goal for his third season in Carolina, but injuries have remained a major factor in his young career. The former first-rounder was limited to just three games as a rookie, and he missed another four contests last year. After recording 53 tackles and three interceptions in 2022, though, his return will be a welcomed development for a Panther defense which, in his absence, has delivered a strong showing against the pass so far.

Thomas’ return will add depth to Carolina’s TE room, one which has been led by free agent addition Hayden Hurst. Thomas – who has missed the past four games due to a calf injury – showed promise as a rookie with 333 receiving yards, but he has yet to eclipse the 200-yard mark since then. The 27-year-old logged a career-low 24% snap share during his five games in 2023 prior to being placed on IR. Once back on the field, he will offer a complementary passing option as well as another contributor with respect to run blocking.

In anticipation of bringing Horn and Thomas back onto the 53-man roster, the Panthers also announced a number of other moves on Monday. Defensive back Matthias Farley and tight end Jordan Matthews have been let go, and they are now subject to waivers. Carolina also signed outside linebacker Eku Leota to the active roster since he had been designated a gameday elevation from the practice squad the maximum three times. The return of Horn and Thomas will leave the Panthers with four IR activations for the rest of the season.

Panthers To Place CB Jaycee Horn On IR

SEPTEMBER 15: The Panthers will place Horn on IR, NFL.com’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.

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.

Panthers CB Jaycee Horn Suffers Ankle Injury

Jaycee Horn has dealt with multiple injuries already in his brief NFL career, and he has encountered another (albeit minor) setback in that regard. The Panthers corner recently suffered an ankle and foot injury, as detailed by team reporter Darin Grant.

The injury kept Horn out of the team’s final voluntary OTA practices, and will also keep him sidelined during this week’s mandatory minicamp. However, the former top-10 pick will not require surgery and is expected to recover in full in time for training camp next month. The foot affected by this latest injury is not the same one which was broken in 2021, something which cost Horn most of his rookie campaign.

The 23-year-old enjoyed a strong bounce-back season in 2022, posting three interceptions and seven pass breakups. He surrendered a completion percentage of 55% and allowed only one touchdown as the nearest defender, showcasing his potential as the long-term No. 1 corner he was drafted to be. Horn once again ended the year on IR, however, after he suffered a broken wrist.

The South Carolina product’s most recent injury is one of several absences Carolina has dealt with at the CB spot this year. Veteran Donte Jackson has been sidelined while recovering from Achilles surgery, while former trade acquisition C.J. Henderson has also missed time for personal reasons, per The Athletic’s Joe Person (subscription required).

The Panthers put up below-average performances in a number of categories in 2022, and more will be expected of their secondary this season under new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero. Horn will have a central role in the unit’s performance in 2023, so his health will be of the utmost concern through the remainder of the offseason heading into the fall. His ability to recover in full over the coming weeks will no doubt be closely monitored as the Panthers prepare for training camp.

Panthers Place CB Jaycee Horn On IR

JANUARY 2: The Panthers have placed Horn on IR, per a team announcement. That comes as little surprise, considering Carolina has now been eliminated from postseason contention. Horn’s season is over, but his performance when available this year will lead to significant expectations in 2023.

DECEMBER 25: The Panthers came into this week knowing they needed to win every remaining game to make the playoffs and took a huge first step by beating the surging Lions handedly. With two games remaining, if they can go on the road twice and beat the division-leading Buccaneers and the Saints, they can punch their ticket to the postseason. Unfortunately, that job just got one degree harder as they will be going into those two games without starting cornerback Jaycee Horn.

Horn left Saturday’s win over the Lions late in the game with a broken wrist, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. This late in the year, the injury is likely one that will end Horn’s sophomore season, his second straight season with an early exit.

Last year’s top-10 draft pick for the Panthers’ rookie season ended after he had only started three games. A fractured foot landed Horn on injured reserve and he would sit out the remainder of the season, forcing Carolina to push for acquisitions such as C.J. Henderson and Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore has since moved on to Indianapolis, but Henderson has been performing as Carolina’s de facto third corner, starting in Weeks 6 and 7 when Horn was dealing with a rib injury and in Week 9 when starting cornerback Donte Jackson missed a contest then taking over the starting job for Jackson when he was placed on IR.

Horn’s comeback season had been going really well. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Horn graded out as the league’s 23rd-best cornerback and a top-ten cornerback in the NFC. While he could stand to improve on his tackling a bit in run defense, Horn has been outstanding in coverage this season recording three interceptions and seven passes defensed while not allowing a single touchdown.

Now, without Jackson and Horn out for the remainder of the season, the Panthers will likely have to start second-year cornerback Keith Taylor opposite Henderson. Taylor has factored heavily into the Panthers rotation of defensive backs several times this season, splitting time with Henderson during his earlier time as a substitute for Jackson and Horn. Carolina doesn’t have much else to work with, unfortunately. If they place Horn on IR, he’ll join Jackson and Stantley Thomas-Oliver III. Recently claimed special-teamer Justin Layne was designated as did not report, leaving veteran cornerback T.J. Carrie as the Panthers’ only healthy backup on the active roster.

The Panthers do have two cornerbacks on the practice squad: Madre Harper and Gavin Heslop. Both are second-year players with Harper coming out of Southern Illinois and Heslop hailing from Stony Brook.

Panthers Notes: NFLPA Grievance, Horn, Fitterer

Field conditions have been a talking point for many teams around the league this year, including the Panthers. The latest issue arising from the turf at Bank of America Stadium has resulted in action being taken by the player’s association.

The NFLPA is filing a grievance against the NFL and the Panthers for the state of the field during Carolina’s Christmas Eve game against the Lions, as detailed by ESPN’s David Newton. That contest – which had the coldest temperature for a start time in franchise history – began with the field in a poor, hard condition for the first half of the game in particular.

The union wanted to have the start of the game delayed due to the conditions, according to Newton’s colleague Adam Schefter, though a league official said they did not raise the issue prior to kickoff. By halftime, the field was in a better condition, but Lions quarterback Jared Goff described the field as “below NFL-standard” after the game was over. Veteran Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson has been one of many Carolina players to voice concerns over the team’s artificial turf, which was installed in 2021.

Here are some other notes out of Charlotte:

  • Cornerback Jaycee Horn was thought to be done for the season in the wake of his wrist injury suffered in Week 16. He quickly underwent surgery, though, opening the door to a late-season return. Joe Person of The Athletic tweets that the 2021 first-rounder could be able to suit up for Carolina’s regular season finale against the Saints – something which would be a welcomed sight given the Panthers’ struggles in the secondary during their loss to the Buccaneers yesterday. On the other hand, that result knocked the Panthers out of postseason contention, so the team should have little incentive to rush him back into action.
  • The firing of head coach Matt Rhule led many to believe that further organizational changes could be coming, but owner David Tepper quickly voiced his support of GM Scott Fitterer. The latter has been in place for less than two full seasons, as the team’s recent rebuilding efforts have not panned out. Fitterer began distancing himself from Rhule in 2021, per Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post, the season in which the former Baylor HC’s seat began to become increasingly hot. Stability with the team’s next head coach – either interim bench boss Steve Wilks or an outside hire – would likely help Fitterer’s job stability for the intermediate future.
  • Wilks continued his reshaping of the team’s coaching staff to close out the season last month, adding Ian Scott as a defensive line coach (Twitter link via Newton). The 41-year-old spent six years in the NFL as a player, including a brief spell with the Panthers in 2008. He began his college coaching career at Florida, later working with d-linemen at UCF and Central Michigan. This post will be his first at the pro level.

Panthers Sign CB Josh Norman; Latest On CB Jaycee Horn

5:00pm: To little surprise, a deal has indeed been finalized. The Panthers announced that Norman is officially back in the fold, joining the team’s practice squad for now. An elevation to the 53-man roster in time for Week 17 is expected to take place.

2:42pm: With the Panthers dealing with a significant loss in their secondary, a familiar face could be back in the fold soon. Veteran Josh Norman is set to workout with the team today, and a deal bringing him back in the fold is a distinct possibility (Twitter links via Joe Person of The Athletic).

The news comes not long after interim head coach Steve Wilks announced that fellow cornerback Jaycee Horn will undergo wrist surgery on Tuesday. A determination will be made after that procedure regarding whether or not the 2021 first-rounder will be able to return at any time this season. It is not expected at this point that he will be able to suit up before 2023.

Horn’s presumed season-ending absence has opened up a spot at the position, and Norman would represent an experienced addition should his visit result in a deal. The 35-year-old began his career as a fifth-rounder of the Panthers in 2012. He enjoyed his best seasons there, including the 2015 campaign which saw him earn Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors after notching four interceptions. He played an instrumental role in the team’s run to the Super Bowl that year.

The Coastal Carolina alum departed for Washington the following offseason, and spent four years there. He tallied seven interceptions and 43 pass deflections during that tenure, demonstrating his continued ability to make plays on the ball into the latter stages of his career. His Washington stint was followed by one-year deals with the Bills and 49ers.

Norman has not played since he made 15 appearances (including 14 starts) with San Francisco last year. While expectations would certainly need to be tempered relative to the last time in played for Carolina, he could step in and play at least a rotational role for the final two weeks of the season – a stretch which carries far more significance at this point than many would have expected given the team’s start to the campaign.

The Panthers sit at 6-9 on the season, putting them just one game behind the Buccaneers for top spot in the NFC South. The two teams will face off against each other on Sunday in a pivotal matchup, one which could include the beginning of Norman’s reunion with his original NFL team.