Pat Elflein

Panthers, C Bradley Bozeman Have Mutual Interest In New Deal

The Panthers signed Bradley Bozeman to a modest one-year, $2.8MM contract last offseason, which was something of a surprise given that the Alabama product was coming off a productive season as the Ravens’ full-time starter at center and seemed primed for a more robust market. After an uncertain start to his Carolina tenure, however, both player and team are interested in continuing their relationship, as David Newton of ESPN.com tweets.

Bozeman and Pat Elflein battled for the Panthers’ starting center gig last summer, and the ankle injury that Bozeman suffered in August gave Elflein a leg up in that competition. Indeed, Elflein started the first six games of the 2022 season at the pivot while Bozeman saw only a handful of special teams snap in each of those contests. Elflein was then forced to undergo season-ending hip surgery, which opened the door for Bozeman to take over.

Bozeman played in every offensive snap for the Panthers over the final 11 games of the campaign, and his mauling style of play certainly helped a rushing attack that finished 10th in the league in yards per game despite losing Christian McCaffrey in advance of the trade deadline. Bozeman’s advanced metrics were unspectacular, though, as Pro Football Focus considered him the 20th-best center in the game out of 38 qualified players, and his 63.1 overall grade represented a step back after a strong 73.6 mark in his final season in Baltimore.

Still, the 28-year-old blocker has proven that he is at least a competent starter, with the potential to be more. He also has the ability to play guard at a passable level, which is not insignificant in light of Brady Christensen‘s so-so season at LG.

Elflein — who also has guard experience but who has never been a world-beater — could become a cap casualty (though that is simply speculation at this point). He is under club control through 2023, but the Panthers would realize $4.2MM of cap savings if they were to release him this offseason, money that could certainly go towards a second Bozeman contract.

Panthers C Pat Elflein Expected To Miss Rest Of Season

It sounds like Pat Elflein‘s season has come to an end. The Panthers center is set to undergo season-ending hip surgery, coach Steve Wilks told reporters today (via Darin Gantt of NBC Sports on Twitter).

Elflein landed on injured reserve on Saturday. The veteran had reportedly been dealing with a hip injury that forced him to miss practice time leading up to Week 7. The IR stint meant the offensive lineman would have been sidelined until at least Week 11, but the veteran will ultimately miss the rest of the season.

The center started 42 of his first 43 NFL games with the Vikings between 2017 and 2019. After splitting the 2020 campaign with the Vikings and Jets, he joined the Panthers on a three-year, $13.5MM deal. He was limited to nine starts during his first season with the Panthers thanks to a hamstring injury that knocked him out for a few months. After Pro Football Focus graded him towards the bottom of the center position in 2021, Elflein ranked 21st among 37 qualifiers in six starts this year.

Bradley Bozeman will likely take over in the starting lineup for the Panthers. The offensive lineman started 48 games for the Ravens between 2019 and 2021, but he’s been limited to a backup role during his first season in Carolina, starting only one of his seven appearances.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/22/22

Here are the league’s minor moves going into Week 7:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

NFC South Notes: Saints, Elflein, Falcons

A potential Alvin Kamara suspension does not appear to be coming to start the 2022 season. The Saints running back’s hearing on charges of conspiracy to commit battery and battery with substantial bodily harm, which was scheduled for this week, has been delayed 60 days, according to KLAS-TV’s David Charns. Kamara, Chiefs cornerback Chris Lammons and two other men face charges in connection with a Feb. 5 assault committed against a man in Las Vegas. The Saints Pro Bowler is bracing for a six-game suspension, but depending on when this hearing ends up taking place, that potential ban may come either during the 2022 season or to start the ’23 campaign.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Tyrann Mathieu is back with the Saints. The offseason addition is making his training camp debut six days late after being excused for a personal matter, Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com notes. Signed to a three-year deal worth $28.3MM, Mathieu is believed to have returned to New Orleans on Tuesday night. The 29-year-old All-Pro joins Marcus Maye as the safeties on track to replace the Marcus WilliamsMalcolm Jenkins tandem.
  • Pat Elflein has played both guard and center for the Panthers, but Matt Rhule said recently the veteran will be working at the latter spot during training camp. Elflein is battling the recently signed Bradley Bozeman for the center gig. Despite Bozeman being one of the team’s offseason additions up front, along with projected starters Austin Corbett and Ikem Ekwonu, The Athletic’s Joe Person noted ahead of camp Elflein had a slight lead for the pivot job (subscription required). A former Vikings center starter, Elflein signed a three-year, $13.5MM deal with the Panthers in 2021. He started nine games with Carolina last season, though Pro Football Focus graded him as one of the league’s worst interior O-linemen.
  • The Panthers made some changes to their scouting department recently. They bumped Rob Hanrahan from assistant director of pro scouting to pro scouting director and gave his old gig to Tyler Ramsey, Person tweets. Hanrahan will replace Matt Allen, whom the team parted ways with in February. Additionally, Robert Haynes will rise from the area-scout level to a national scouting post, and former Lions wide receiver Corey Fuller — brother of Kyle and Kendall Fuller — is moving from the assistant level to west coast area scout (Twitter link).
  • Jahri Evans and Ty Warren are attempting to break into the coaching ranks. Both are interning as Saints staffers at camp, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. A 12-year veteran who made four straight All-Pro teams as a Saints guard, Evans, 38, hung up his cleats after the 2017 season. Warren, 41, spent 10 seasons with the Patriots and Broncos, being a starting defensive lineman for two Pats Super Bowl-bound squads. He retired after the 2012 season.
  • The Falcons also made some staff adjustments. They promoted Sal Conti to pro scout and Rushell Harvey to player personnel coordinator, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Both staffers joined the team last year under GM Terry Fontenot. The team also hired Donavan Ellison, previously a Panthers assistant, to work as a football analyst.

Panthers Restructure OL Pat Elflein’s Contract

While much of the focus in Carolina is on the Panthers’ pursuit of Deshaun Watson, the team continues to open up some additional cap space. ESPN’s Field Yates reports (via Twitter) that the Panthers have restructured offensive lineman Pat Elflein‘s contract.

[RELATED: Panthers Preparing “Aggressive” Offer For Deshaun Watson]

The front office converted $4.86MM of the player’s 2022 compensation into a signing bonus, creating an additional $2.4MM in cap space. Per Yates, the team is now “closing in” on close to $30MM in cap space.

The Panthers added Elflein on the first day of free agency in 2021, with the lineman inking a three-year, $13.5MM deal. He started all nine of his games during his first season with the organization, but he missed a chunk of the season while dealing with a hamstring issue.

The 27-year-old started his career with the Vikings, starting 43 of his 44 games. He split the 2020 season between the Vikings and the Jets.

Panthers Expected To Let Matt Paradis Depart In Free Agency; Latest On FA Plans

As Joseph Person of The Athletic (subscription required) writes, the Panthers are likely to part ways with center Matt Paradis, who is eligible for free agency. Pat Elflein, who opened the 2021 season as Carolina’s left guard but who moved over to center following Paradis’ injury, is likely to continue as the starting pivot despite his struggles in that role.

Paradis, 32, signed a three-year, $27MM contract with the Panthers in March 2019, and he started every game for the club from Week 1 of the 2019 season through Week 9 of the 2021 campaign. Unfortunately, a torn ACL suffered in that Week 9 contest ended his walk year prematurely, and it leaves him in a less-than-desirable position as he hits the open market for the second time in his career (interestingly, when he hooked on with the Panthers in 2019, he was coming off a serious leg injury that he sustained in November 2018, which may have limited his earnings then in the same way that his recent ACL tear will limit his earnings now).

Still, given his track record as a solid starter and the fact that he has been quite durable except when he’s playing out a contract year, he should garner a fair amount of attention from teams in need of a center. The Bengals, Jets, and Jaguars are all rumored to be interested in Bucs center Ryan Jensen, and Tampa Bay wants to retain its four-year starter. The losers of the Jensen sweepstakes could turn to Paradis, and the Ravens, who may be unable to afford a new contract for Bradley Bozeman, could also be in play.

The Panthers, meanwhile, will have plenty of work to do on the O-line. Luckily for them, this year’s college class is deep at the LT position, and Carolina could net a high-quality prospect even if it trades down from its No. 6 overall selection. In a separate piece (subscription required), Person opines that the Panthers will not be in the market for a high-priced free agent like longtime division-rival Terron Armstead, so the draft would be the place to nab a blindside blocker. Person does expect the team to sign a free agent guard, and while Brandon Scherff and Laken Tomlinson may be too pricey, old friend Andrew Norwell or Bears OL James Daniels could be viable targets.

In related news, Person says the Panthers do want edge defender Haason Reddick back, but only if the price is right. We recently heard that Reddick is likely to test the open market for the second year in a row. And while the club has not shut the door on a new contract for CB Stephon Gilmore, Person hears that the team is prioritizing a deal with fellow corner Donte Jackson, who is five years younger than Gilmore (both players are also eligible for free agency). GM Scott Fitterer is also doing his due diligence on available safeties.

Finally, the Panthers reportedly want to re-sign K Zane Gonzalez and may be eyeing P Pat O’Donnell as a replacement for Lachlan Edwards.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 12/29/21

Several key players returned to practice Wednesday. Here are the latest COVID-19 updates from around the league:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Activated from practice squad/COVID-19 list: WR Rico Bussey

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/23/21

We’ve compiled a list of players who were placed or activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list today. In some instances, players activated from the list remain on IR:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Football Team

Panthers Activate OL Pat Elflein

The Panthers will welcome back a key member of their offensive line this weekend. The team has activated guard Pat Elflein off injured reserve, reports Joe Person of The Athletic (via Twitter).

The 27-year-old landed on IR in September after suffering a hamstring injury. Elflein returned to practice back in October, and today was the deadline for the organization to activate him off IR. Per Jonathan M. Alexander of the Charlotte Observer, the lineman was expected to return earlier but suffered a setback.

The former third-round pick spent the beginning of his career with the Vikings, starting 43 of his 44 appearances. He split the 2020 season between the Vikings and the Jets, and he landed in Carolina this offseason on a three-year, $13.5MM deal. He started each of his two games this season, including a Week 1 win where he appeared in 95 percent of his team’s offensive snaps.

It remains to be seen if Elflein will slide back into the starting lineup for this weekend’s game against the Patriots. The Panthers offensive line has improved over the past few weeks, so the organization could end up sticking with backups Michael Jordan and Trenton Scott in the staring lineup.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/13/21

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves, with the list being updated throughout the day:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

New England Patriots

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team