Nate Chandler

Bears’ Nate Chandler Retires

Nate Chandler signed with the Bears in early June despite seeing a severe knee injury wipe out much of his past two seasons. But the tackle won’t be suiting up for the Bears this season, as it turns out, after the team placed him on the reserve/retired list, Adam Caplan of reports (on Twitter).

The 27-year-old blocker spent less than two months with the Bears despite generating interest from multiple other NFC teams this offseason. He now becomes the second Chicago offensive lineman to retire just months after being signed by the team this offseason. Manny Ramirez did the same earlier this year after signing in March to potentially compete for a starting interior-line job.

Chandler wasn’t going to win a starting position, being a clear depth signing to ideally function behind Charles Leno and Bobby Massie if he ultimately proved sufficiently recovered from the torn meniscus injury that derailed his career. But the former Panthers lineman also visited the Lions before deciding to sign with the Bears. He worked out for the Buccaneers in April.

Chicago looks to have been preparing for this transaction after signing free agent Amini Silatolu earlier this week. Chandler’s former teammate with Carolina, Silatolu could now step into one of the backup roles that are now less clear after the retirements of Ramirez and Chandler, with Roster Resource pointing out the team’s lack of pure tackle depth behind Leno and Massie. However, Silatolu is coming off knee trouble as well after suffering torn ACLs in both the 2013 and ’15 seasons.

The Panthers cut Chandler before the start of the new league year, doing so after moving the former UDFA defensive tackle to the other side of the ball and making him a starter at both tackle and guard from 2013-14. If this retirement sticks, the knee injury Chandler suffered in Carolina’s 11th game of the 2014 season will end up being his final NFL action.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nate Chandler To Sign With Bears

Despite having his free agency largely nullified by a severe knee injury, Nate Chandler found two NFC North suitors this week. After making a visit to Detroit on Wednesday, the UFA tackle decided to sign with the Bears, Ian Rapoport of reports (on Twitter).

The Bears brought Jake Long in for a visit this morning but have opted to give that roster spot to Chandler, Rapoport notes. This proves as an interesting maneuver considering Chandler had not generated much free agency attention after the Panthers released him before the start of the new league year.

After trying out for the Buccaneers in April, Chandler visited the Lions about becoming a possibly depth piece but soon received interest from the Bears despite having no previous connection to the team.

A day after his 27th birthday, Chandler will make arrangements to venture to his second franchise. The Panthers slotted him into their starting lineup in 19 games, with the former UDFA from UCLA seeing time at both tackle and guard during the 2013 and ’14 seasons, but a knee injury sustained midway through the 2014 campaign sidetracked his career. Carolina placed Chandler on IR last September and watched as its line helped Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart lead a cutting-edge ground attack during a 15-1 season that ended with an NFC championship.

With the Bears, Chandler will likely compete for a role behind projected starters Bobby Massie and Charles Leno. Chicago also added interior-line presences Manny Ramirez and Ted Larsen this offseason. Chandler could potentially add to this versatile group should he stay healthy.

Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images

Nate Chandler To Visit Lions

Offensive lineman Nate Chandler hasn’t seen live NFL action since the 2014 campaign, but he’s still garnering interest from around the league. According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link), Chandler will visit the Lions on Wednesday. Nate Chandler (Vertical)

Chandler, who turns 27 this week, started 19 games for the Panthers during the 2013-14 seasons, seeing time at both tackle and guard. He required knee surgery midway through 2014, and the injury was serious enough that Chandler was forced to miss the entire 2015 season, as well. Chandler drew interest from the Buccaneers earlier this offseason, participating in a three-day workout on a tryout basis.

In Detroit, Chandler would act as a clear reserve, as the Lions’ starting five is already made up of Riley Reiff, Laken Tomlinson, Travis Swanson, Larry Warford, and first-rounder Taylor Decker. Additionally, the club has already added quite a bit of depth this offseason, signing veteran free agent Geoff Schwartz (who, like Chandler, can play both tackle and guard), while drafting center Graham Glasgow and guard Joe Dahl.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: 49ers, Saints, Seahawks, Hayden

The 49ers were one of several teams who talked with the Panthers about a possible trade for Josh Norman before his franchise tag was rescinded, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report tweets. However, the talks didn’t get far. It’s worth noting that Norman would have had to either sign his franchise tag or agree to a long-term deal in order to make such a trade possible. The 49ers were one of many clubs to be connected to Norman when he became an unrestricted free agent last week but they ultimately did not land him.

Let’s round up a few more items from across the NFC…

  • Before the Titans sent the No. 1 overall pick to Los Angeles, the Saints had discussions about moving up to No. 1 for a quarterback, tweets Ian Rapoport of It’s not clear whether New Orleans actually engaged in talks with the Titans, or simply discussed the idea internally, but Rapoport wonders if the team will target Paxton Lynch in the first round.
  • Free agent defensive tackle Nick Hayden visited the Seahawks on Monday, according to Sheil Kapadia of Hayden has started 60 career NFL games, including 47 over the last three seasons in Dallas, making him one of the more experienced interior defenders still available on the open market.
  • Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link) adds the Saints to the list of clubs that have worked out Cal running back Daniel Lasco in the weeks leading up to the draft. Lasco, whose stock is believed to be on the rise, worked out for at least five other teams besides New Orleans.
  • German wide receiver Moritz Boehringer expects to be selected in the draft this week, but if he isn’t picked, the Vikings would be a leading candidate to sign him as an undrafted free agent, as he tells Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link).
  • The Buccaneers will bring in offensive lineman Nate Chandler and Brandon Mosley as tryout players for their three-day minicamp this week, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Chandler can play both tackle and guard.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

South Notes: Lovie, Bucs, Mankins, Norman

Former Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith is expected to become the new head coach at the University of Illinois, according to Ryan Baker of CBS Chicago (Twitter link). Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports has also confirmed the likely hire. Smith’s move back to the state of Illinois — where he coached the Bears for nine seasons — has repercussions in Tampa Bay, as Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports (Twitter link) that Smith’s contract with the Bucs contained offset language pertaining to any football job, not just those in the NFL. Therefore, Tampa is likely to going to recoup some of the $10MM it owes to Smith under the terms of his old deal.

Let’s take a look at more out from Tampa Bay and the NFL’s other South division clubs…

  • Free agent offensive lineman Nate Chandler was released by the Panthers earlier this week, but he’s now getting attention from another NFC South team, as Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Buccaneers are interested in Chandler. As Auman writes, Tampa’s interest in Chandler — who can play both tackle and guard — could be a sign that the club expects veteran Logan Mankins to retire. Mankins hasn’t yet made a final decision, per Auman, but he will let the Bucs know his choice before free agency starts.
  • Panthers cornerback Josh Norman isn’t going to accept a long-term deal that he considers to be below his market value, and he’s fine with playing out the season on the franchise tag, writes Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer. Norman won’t accept a hometown discount, as he tells Jones, but he dispensed with any notion that he would hold out of training camp in an attempt to spur Carolina into offering more money.
  • Safety Earl Wolff, who signed a futures contract with the Jaguars in January, was abducted by a group of armed men in Fayetteville, North Carolina on February 23, according to Thomas Pope of the Fayetteville Observer. Wolff was released unharmed, and one of alleged kidnappers was arrested on Wednesday.

Panthers Cut Dwan Edwards, Nate Chandler

1:13pm: The Panthers have made two more roster moves today, re-signing one offensive lineman and cutting another. According to a pair of team releases, Carolina has let go of Nate Chandler and re-signed Chris Scott.

Chandler, 26, started 19 games up front for the Panthers in 2013 and 2014, but missed the entire 2015 campaign due to a knee injury. His release saves the team $1.5MM in cap room, reducing his cap charge from $1.7Mm to $200K.

As for Scott, he has seen the occasional start for the Panthers in recent years, but primarily acts as a depth piece on the offensive line and a contributor on special teams. He inked a one-year deal to remain in Carolina.

11:03am: The Panthers have made their second defensive line cut of the day, announcing in a press release that they’ve parted ways with veteran defensive tackle Dwan Edwards. Earlier this morning, the club released defensive end Charles Johnson.Dwan Edwards

[RELATED: Panthers release defensive end Charles Johnson]

Edwards, who will turn 35 in May, joined the Panthers in 2012, and started 14 games for the team, recording 52 tackles and a career-high six sacks. Since then, the former second-round pick has transitioned to more of a situational role, starting just three games in the last three seasons.

In 2015, Edwards recorded 13 tackles and a sack in 445 defensive snaps, with Pro Football Focus ranking him 113th out of 123 qualified interior defensive linemen. In his preview of the Panthers’ offseason, PFR’s Dallas Robinson suggested Edwards could be on the chopping block if the team wanted to get a little younger on its D-line.

By releasing Edwards, the Panthers trim his cap hit from $2.1MM to $500K in dead money, creating $1.6MM in savings. Taking into account Johnson’s release and Jared Allen‘s retirement, Carolina has now saved more than $20MM in 2016 cap room as the team’s defensive line undergoes an overhaul.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers To Sign Fernando Velasco

9:32am: In a related move, the Panthers replaced offensive lineman Nate Chandler (knee) on IR, as Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer tweets.

8:29am: The Panthers will sign center Fernando Velasco, a source tells Rand Getlin of (via Twitter). Velasco recently became a free agent when he was among the Titans’ final cuts before dropping down to a 53-man roster. The veteran will provide depth in Carolina as rookie Daryl Williams is sidelined for 2-to-4 weeks with a sprained knee.

Velasco came to the Panthers as a free agent prior to the 2014 season and while he’s listed as a center, he spent the bulk of 2014 as a guard, playing 407 overall offensive snaps. The 30-year-old wasn’t a core piece of Carolina’s offensive line, but he was a useful part-time player, appearing in multiple games at both right guard and left guard, and not allowing a quarterback sack all year.

In Tennessee, Velasco was expected to challenge for playing time at center, where Brian Schwenke was the favorite to start, but things didn’t work out that way. Velasco, who began his career with the Titans and started all 16 games at center in 2012, boasts 37 starts overall for his career. In 2013 with the Steelers he filled in for injured center Maurkice Pouncey and Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked him as the team’s fourth-best lineman.

Panthers Activate Mike Tolbert; Chandler To IR

On the heels of waiving Jason Avant and adding wide receiver De’Andre Presley in his place, the Panthers have completed another pair of roster moves, according to a team release. Carolina has activated running back Mike Tolbert from the injured reserve list and moved tackle Nate Chandler to IR, ending his season.

Tolbert, who suffered a hairline fracture and bone bruise in his leg earlier this year, was placed on IR with the designation to return, and will rejoin a backfield that finally appears to be getting fully healthy as the Panthers enter their bye week. Conversely, Chandler, who started all 11 games at right tackle for Carolina, will require surgery to repair a knee issue, per David Newton of (via Twitter). Chandler signed an extension with the Panthers earlier in 2014, so the team will hope to have him back at 100% health heading into the 2015 season.

While the Panthers’ offensive line has seen several players miss time with injuries this season, right tackle was one spot that had remained relatively stable. In Chandler’s absence, David Foucault, Mike Remmers, and Chris Scott are expected to compete for playing time at the position.

Panthers Extend Chandler, Addison, Jones

THURSDAY, 11:32am: According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today (via Twitter), Addison’s new deal is worth $3.205MM over the next three years, with $660K guaranteed, while Jones’ three-year value is $2.5MM, with $300K guaranteed. Both guarantees are in the form of signing bonuses (Twitter link).

WEDNESDAY, 1:23pm: The Panthers have signed three players to contract extensions, the team announced today in a press release. According to the club, offensive tackle Nate Chandler has inked a three-year extension, while defensive end Mario Addison and safety Colin Jones have each signed new two-year deals. All three players had been entering the final year of their respective contracts.

“You have to think long-term and be proactive,” general manager Dave Gettleman said in a statement. “Around here we talk about earning the right, and these three young guys have earned the right to these contract extensions. We think all three are ascending as players. This gave us a chance to lock them up long-term.”

With Jordan Gross no longer in the picture at left tackle, Chandler could be competing this summer for the right to protect Cam Newton‘s blind side. The third-year player out of UCLA started eight regular-season contests and a playoff game at right guard for Carolina last season, and figures to see his fair share of playing time somewhere on the Panthers’ offensive line. According to Ian Rapoport of (Twitter link), Chandler’s three-year extension will be worth $7.95MM, with $1.87MM in guaranteed money.

As for the pair of players receiving two-year extensions, Addison is expected to head into the 2014 season as a reserve defensive end, after recording 2.5 sacks and 28 total quarterback pressures in 264 defensive snaps last season. Jones, meanwhile, didn’t see much action on defense in 2013, but he and Addison are key contributors on special teams — they each recorded nine tackles in kick and punt coverage last season.