Josh Babicz

Wednesday NFL Transactions: NFC South

Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These BuccaneersFalcons, Panthers and Saints moves are noted below.

Here are Wednesday’s NFC South transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.

Atlanta Falcons

Claimed:

Released:

Signed to practice squad:

Carolina Panthers

Signed to practice squad:

New Orleans Saints

Claimed:

  • T Tanner Owen (from Bills)

Released:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Signed to practice squad:

Panthers Trim Roster To 53 Players

The Panthers trimmed their roster to 53 players today, meaning a long list of players earned their walking papers:

Released:

Waived:

Waived/injured:

Placed on IR:

The most notable move was kicker Zane Gonzalez landing on injured reserve, making him ineligible to return for the 2022 campaign. Gonzalez injury himself on Friday night while warming up on the sideline. It was later revealed that he suffered a significant groin injury, and that injury ended up being season-ending. The Panthers worked out five potential replacements yesterday.

Juston Burris started 20 of his 23 games for the Panthers over the past two seasons. After collecting a career-high 53 tackles in 2020, the safety finished with only 23 tackles this past year, with Pro Football Focus ranking him 77th among 92 qualifying safeties. He was on the roster bubble following the offseason pickup of Xavier Woods. Brandon Zylstra has seen time in 37 games for the Panthers over the past three years, hauling in 29 receptions for 391 yards and one touchdown. Yesterday’s trade for Laviska Shenault Jr. only pushed him further down the depth chart, leading to his release.

Panthers Sign 13 Undrafted Free Agents

With the 2022 NFL Draft over, the Panthers went quickly back to work, signing 13 free agents from the undrafted rookie class. Here’s the full list of UDFAs headed to Carolina:

Carolina had one of the more interesting draft experiences. They took the Draft’s first offensive lineman, who was a threat to go No. 1 overall, with the sixth pick of the night. After that, they weren’t expected to make another pick until the end of the fourth round. The Panthers, though, made a move as they saw quarterbacks tumbling closer and closer to their draft position, trading up to take former Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral in the third round.

Cheek is being brought in as a bit of additional quarterback competition. Cheek’s a hometown kid who started 40 games at Elon. He passed for 8,548 yards throwing 51 touchdowns to 21 interceptions over his college career.

Carolina’s UDFA class is also headlined by players like Rambo, Tolson, and Hartlaub. Rambo, the former Oklahoma Sooner who transferred to Miami for his last year of college ball, set single season records for the Hurricanes in receptions and receiving yards during his sole season with the team. Tolson can bring a lot of speed to the linebacker room. He ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at 235 lb. during the Fighting Illini’s pro day. The Panthers were eager to bring him in, giving him a guaranteed $85,000, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network.

Hartlaub is not a name most will recognize, as he spent most of his college career on special teams, but it says a lot about his abilities that he was able to earn an UDFA contract as a career-special teamer. Besides being outstanding on special teams, the Panthers were likely attracted to another aspect of Hartlaub. During the Nittany Lions’ pro day, Hartlaub reportedly ran a 4.22 40-yard dash. If accurate, that would have been the fastest 40-time at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine.

Carolina was willing to spend a bit to put together this group. In addition to the impressive amount guaranteed to Tolson, Wilson reported that the Panthers gave Henry a guaranteed amount of $100,000, as well as a $17,500 signing bonus.