Marquis Haynes

Panthers Activate LB Marquis Haynes

NOVEMBER 9: Haynes will move back onto Carolina’s 53-man roster. The Panthers activated the rotational pass rusher ahead of Thursday’s Bears matchup. Unlike the Bears, whose Josh Blackwell and Equanimeous St. Brown activations have moved them down to one such move remaining, the Panthers have only used two IR activations this season.

NOVEMBER 6: The Panthers should soon be getting some much-needed depth at linebacker. The team announced that linebacker Marquis Haynes returned to practice and has been designated to return from injured reserve.

The Panthers now have 21 days to activate Haynes to the active roster. It’s uncertain if the sixth-year player will be able to return in time for Thursday Night Football against the Bears.

Haynes missed most of training camp and the preseason while dealing with a lingering back injury. While he was able to briefly return to practice, the linebacker ended up landing on injured reserve following final roster cuts. Haynes obviously required more than the four-week minimum to return, with his absence ultimately lasting more than two months.

The former fourth-round pick has turned into a dependable pass-rushing option for the Panthers. While he’s only started one of his 64 career appearances, he still appeared in more than a third of his team’s defensive snaps between 2020 and 2022. Over this span, Haynes has collected 12 sacks, including a 2022 campaign where he finished with a career-high five sacks to go along with a career-high 13 QB hits.

The Panthers are probably hoping Haynes can join the active roster sooner than later. The team recently placed Justin Houston on injured reserve, and head coach Frank Reich revealed today that Brian Burns will likely miss Week 10 while dealing with a concussion (via Joe Person of The Athletic). Luiji Vilain also suffered a knee injury in Week 9, leaving the team with three linebackers in DJ Johnson, Amaré Barno, and practice-squad player Eku Leota to finish yesterday’s loss to the Colts.

Panthers Place OLB Marquis Haynes On IR; Latest On Brian Burns

The Panthers’ edge rushing contingent will be shorthanded to start the season. The team announced on Monday that Marquis Haynes has been placed on IR. He will be sidelined for at least four weeks as a result.

Haynes has served in a backup role throughout his his five-year tenure in Carolina. The 29-year-old saw an uptick in usage last season, though, logging a 41% snap share. He translated that increased workload into career highs in sacks (five), pressures (16) and QB hits (13). His absence will thus be felt by a Panthers team looking to improve on the edge in 2023.

Carolina was long connected to additions to its pass-rushing contingent, and it thus came as no surprise that veteran Justin Houston was signed in August. The four-time Pro Bowler inked a one-year deal including $6MM guaranteed, giving the Panthers a complimentary option opposite Brian Burns. Houston led the Ravens with 9.5 sacks last season, and production anywhere near that level would make his addition a worthwhile one. Haynes’ absence will likely lead to a larger-than-expected workload for the 34-year-old early in the campaign.

With that said, Haynes had been dealing with a lingering back injury through the summer. Head coach Frank Reich said the team had been expecting the former former fourth-rounder to miss Week 1, so today’s news comes as little surprise. It is signficant, however, given the uncertainty surrounding Burns’ availability for the team’s regular season opener.

The latter has been with the team throughout training camp as talks continue on a multi-year extension. Burns remains hopeful that something will be worked out in the near future, but Reich confirmed on Monday that the 25-year-old did not take part in practice due to a personal matter. With his financial future beyond 2023 uncertain, questions have been raised about whether or not Burns will suit up for Week 1.

On that point, Reich said (via The Athletic’s Joe Person) that he is unsure if Burns is willing to start the campaign without a deal in hand. Especially if he misses time to try and leverage an extension, the loss of Haynes early in the campaign will be acutely felt by the Panthers’ defense.

Panthers Likely To Add Pass Rusher?

Earlier this month, we heard that the Panthers were presently disinclined to authorize a notable contract for a free agent pass rusher, and that fourth-year pro Yetur Gross-Matos would have a chance to retain his starting job opposite Brian Burns. We did note that GM Scott Fitterer would continue to monitor the edge defender market, and Joseph Person of The Athletic says he does, in fact, expect Carolina to add a pass rusher before the regular season opener (subscription required).

Person does not hazard a guess as to a specific player that Fitterer might target. Of course, there will always be cuts from other clubs that will quickly find a new home, but a top-flight pass rusher is highly unlikely to hit the market in the summer. And the existing market has thinned in the last several weeks, as Leonard Floyd (Bills) and Frank Clark (Broncos) have come off the board.

That still leaves plenty of worthwhile defenders available, including players like Yannick Ngakoue, Jadeveon Clowney, Robert Quinn, and Melvin Ingram. While some of those talents may be too rich for Fitterer’s liking — Ngakoue, for instance, was targeting a contract paying him $8MM-$10MM per year as of May — the Panthers will almost certainly be able to add an experienced edge player for an affordable price at some point in the next couple of months.

In the meantime, Gross-Matos, Marquis Haynes, and third-round rookie D.J. Johnson will continue to make their case for a starter’s role. According to Person, Haynes was particularly impressive during Carolina’s three-day mandatory minicamp last week, frequently getting into the offensive backfield and in the face of rookie quarterback Bryce Young.

Haynes, who has been used in a rotational capacity since the Panthers selected him in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, did see a career-high 41% snap share in 2022, and he produced five sacks (also a career best). Neither he nor Gross-Matos fared well in the eyes of Pro Football Focus’ metrics, but it is at least notable that he doubled Gross-Matos’ sack production and had three more QB hits while playing nearly 400 fewer snaps.

Person says that Haynes, who is entering a platform year and who is due just $1.4MM in 2023, may be better-suited to a stand-up OLB role in DC Ejiro Evero‘s 3-4 scheme than he was to a 4-3 look. He has certainly caught Young’s attention.

“He’s been great,” Young said. “There’s a lot of great competition here, so you see him in the backfield. It’s good on good. It’s elite guys going up against each other. It’s tough when you have to go up against him every day in practice. But on Sundays, it’s great knowing that you have a guy like that out there.”

Panthers To Re-Sign Marquis Haynes

Marquis Haynes will be sticking with the Panthers. Aaron Wilson of reports (via Twitter) that the Panthers have re-signed the linebacker/defensive end. It’s a two-year deal for Haynes.

Haynes was a fourth-round pick by the Panthers back in 2018, and he’s carved out a role for himself on defense in recent years. While he still doesn’t have a start to his name, Haynes has still appeared in 47 career games, including 32 over the past two seasons.

After finishing with four sacks in 2020, the 28-year-old collected another three sacks to go along with 20 tackles in 2021.

His ability to play both linebacker and defensive end make hims a versatile piece in the Panthers 3-4 defense. He’ll likely continue to play that role in 2022.

Panthers Reworking Staff

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule has had some difficulties making the same immediate impact in Carolina that gained him notoriety in Waco. In two years at the helm, Rhule hasn’t succeeded in improving his team’s win total from the season before he was hired. In an attempt to make some needed improvements, the Panthers announced that they were letting go of offensive line coach Pat Meyer, defensive line coach Frank Okam, and special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn.

The team struggled on both sides of the line this year and it looks like any attempts to improve will be made by new position coaches, while the special teams unit saw four different kickers and three punters throughout the year, including the preseason.

Meyer has been with Rhule since the move to Carolina. He’s been coaching in the NFL for 8 years with stops at the Chargers, Bills, and Bears. Meyer entered the NFL with Marc Trestman, moving with the coach from the CFL to Chicago.

Okam joined Rhule at Baylor and followed the notably loyal coach to the Panthers. Rhule had brought much of his staff from Temple with him to Baylor, so it was safe to assume some of the Baylor staff would end up in Carolina, as well. Despite coaching up young draft picks like Derrick Brown, Yetur Gross-Matos, and Bravvion Roy and seeing career numbers from Brian Burns, Efe Obada, and Marquis Haynes, it seems Rhule is wanting a bit more from this position group.

Chase Blackburn was a longtime linebacker for the Giants before spending his final two years playing in Carolina. After about a year of retirement from playing, Blackburn became a special teams intern in Ron Rivera‘s staff. When Rhule came in to replace Rivera, Blackburn was one of two holdovers from the staff along with Jake Peetz, who is now the offensive coordinator at LSU.

It’s yet to be seen who will replace them, but Rhule continues to show hints of what made him successful at the college level by attempting to make the necessary changes to succeed. With young talent on both sides of the ball, Rhule may yet turn this team around.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/1/22

Here are the New Year’s Day activations from and placements on the reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: G Oli Udoh

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: CB Bryce Hall

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Draft Pick Signings: 5/10/18

Here are the rest of Thursday’s draft pick accords:

  • The Buccaneers signed one of their three second-round picks in cornerback M.J. Stewart (No. 53 overall), Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. They also agreed to terms with their final three picks — Kansas State safety Jordan Whitehead (Round 4, pick 117), Penn wide receiver Justin Watson (Round 5, pick 144) and Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy (Round 6, pick 202).
  • Five-sixths of this Falcons draft class is now signed. Atlanta agreed to a deal with third-round defensive tackle Deadrin Senat (No. 90 overall out of South Florida). After already signing four other selections, only first-rounder Calvin Ridley remains unsigned.
  • The Steelers signed one of the safeties they drafted last month in agreeing to terms with Penn State product Marcus Allen (Round 5, pick 148). Pittsburgh also signed Alabama defensive tackle Joshua Frazier (Round 7, pick 246).
  • The Jaguars came to terms with four of their seven draftees — the final four Jacksonville selected in this year’s draft. N.C. State tackle Will Richardson (Round 4, pick 129), Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee (Round 6, pick 203), Wisconsin linebacker Leon Jacobs (Round 7, pick 230) and Mississippi State punter Logan Cooke (Round 7, pick 247) all signed their first Jags contracts Thursday. Cooke has a clear path toward the Jags’ punter job since the team released Brad Nortman two days after the draft.
  • Beginning their signings, the Titans agreed to deals with half of their four-man draft class. Tennessee signed Arizona cornerback Dane Cruikshank (Round 5, pick 152) and Washington State quarterback Luke Falk (Round 6, pick 199). The latter will attempt to develop behind Marcus Mariota and Blaine Gabbert.
  • Following suit in bringing aboard the back half of their draft, the Bills agreed to deals with four rookies. Jacksonville State safety Siran Neal, Virginia Tech guard Wyatt Teller (Round 5, pick 166), Clemson wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud (Round 6, pick 187) and North Carolina wideout Austin Proehl (Round 7, pick 255) signed their initial Buffalo deals.
  • Second-round Panthers pick Donte Jackson (No. 55 overall) signed his rookie contract. Indiana tight end Ian Thomas (Round 4, pick 101), Ole Miss defensive end Marquis Haynes (Round 4, pick 136), Maryland linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. (Round 5, pick 161) and Miami defensive tackle Kendrick Norton (Round 7, pick 242) followed suit.