Terrance Knighton

Matt Rhule To Add Panthers’ Terrance Knighton To Nebraska Staff

The Panthers have seen extensive staff turnover this season. A handful of Matt Rhule‘s assistants are no longer with the team. Former nose tackle Terrance Knighton represents the latest departure.

Hired as Nebraska’s head coach late last week, Rhule is bringing Knighton along to be the Cornhuskers’ defensive line coach, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. Added as Carolina’s assistant D-line coach last year, Knighton had been helping Don Johnson helm the unit since interim HC Steve Wilks fired D-line coach Paul Pasqualoni earlier this month.

[RELATED: Wilks Making ‘Strong Push’ For Panthers’ Permanent HC Gig]

Knighton’s Charlotte departure is effective immediately. In addition to firing Rhule, the Panthers axed DC Phil Snow, Pasqualoni and cornerbacks coach Evan Cooper. Rhule has also added Cooper to his Cornhuskers staff, according to ESPN.com’s Pete Thamel (on Twitter). The Panthers are also losing assistant strength and conditioning coach Corey Campbell to Nebraska, per Person. Considering the likely staff turnover for the Panthers in 2023, it is unsurprising to see ex-Rhule staffers opt for more security now.

A 2009 Jaguars third-round pick who was a starter on the Broncos’ Super Bowl XLVIII team, Knighton hung up his cleats in 2017. “Pot Roast” has been in coaching since taking over as Wagner’s D-line coach in 2019. Rhule brought him to Carolina in 2021. Like several of Rhule’s Panthers acquisitions, Knighton is a Temple alum. While Knighton did not play under Rhule at the then-Big East program, Rhule was an Owls assistant at the time.

Part of Rhule’s staffs at Temple and Baylor, Cooper joined the Panthers in 2020. That marked his first NFL job. The DBs coach will head back to the college ranks. Rhule’s Nebraska hiring will take the Panthers off the book for the bulk of the $34MM remaining on his contract.

Panthers Activate QB Sam Darnold

The Panthers have added another name to the mix regarding their fluid quarterback situation. The team announced on Monday that Sam Darnold has been activated from IR. This will be their second activation of the year.

Carolina had until this Wednesday to make the move. If not, Darnold would have been ineligible to return this season. Interim head coach Steve Wilks‘ comments on the matter left the situation somewhat murky, but it comes as little surprise that Darnold will be available moving forward after his return to practice.

The 25-year-old suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason, leading to the expectation of a prolonged absence to begin the campaign. That opened the door to offseason trade acquisition Baker Mayfield having an even firmer grip on the starting QB job in the opening weeks of the season, but he struggled mightily before suffering the same injury himself. P.J. Walker took over the No. 1 role for the next three games.

His level of play left Mayfield on the bench despite retuning to health, until halftime of yesterday’s blowout loss to the Bengals. Walker had guided one of the worst offensive performances through two quarters in franchise history, leading Wilks to replace him with Mayfield for the remainder of the game. That move left the starting spot wide open in advance of Carolina’s upcoming Thursday night game against the Falcons. Darnold – who, like Mayfield, is a pending free agent – will now factor into the team’s plans in the coming days.

In other Panthers news, more changes have been made along the team’s coaching staff. Cornerbacks coach Evan Cooper and defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni were fired today, as detailed by ESPN’s David Newton. Cooper had been one of several assistants with ties to Matt Rhule, and his job description included a scouting role. He will be jointly replaced by defensive staffer Bobby Maffei and interim defensive coordinator Al Holcomb. Pasqualoni, 73, has five years of DC experience in the NFL; this was his first season in Carolina. Don Johnson and assistant d-line coach Terrance Knighton will occupy his vacated role.

These moves come less than one month after Rhule and DC Phil Snow were fired, of course, as the turnover in the organization continues. With a new configuration on the sidelines, and, potentially, another new face under center, the 2-7 Panthers will host the Falcons to begin Week 10 as they hope to rebound from yesterday’s loss.

Staff Notes: Broncos, Redskins, Eagles

A few pipelines have led to the Broncos this offseason. Following’s Ed Donatell Chicago-to-Denver move alongside Vic Fangio, another 49ers staffer will take a key job on the Broncos’ staff, joining new OC Rich Scangarello. T.C. McCartney, an offensive assistant with San Francisco, will become Denver’s new quarterbacks coach, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets. McCartney interviewed on Tuesday, per Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link), and represents a unique addition to the Broncos’ staff. The 29-year-old assistant is the grandson of former Colorado Buffaloes head coach Bill McCartney. It will be T.C. McCartney’s first NFL time as an NFL position coach.

But the latest pipeline to lead to the Denver staff is the most interesting. The Broncos will hire another former Wagner College assistant, with Rob Calabrese set to become a Broncos offensive assistant, per Klis. Scangarello and Calabrese worked together at the Division I-FCS, Staten Island, N.Y., program in 2016, with Calabrese succeeding Scangarello as Wagner’s OC and serving in that capacity for the past two seasons. (Fun fact: former Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton is an assistant at Wagner.)

Here is the latest from coaching staffs around the league:

  • Although Jim Tomsula‘s Redskins contract had expired, the parties look to have worked out another agreement. Tomsula will return as Washington’s defensive line coach, the team announced Tuesday. This will be the former 49ers HC’s third season instructing Redskins defensive linemen.
  • Washington did some staff rearranging Tuesday, shifting Kevin O’Connell to OC and Matt Cavanaugh to an advisory role. Ken Zampese met with the Redskins about O’Connell’s old QBs coach job, per Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio (Twitter link). The Browns fired Zampese from his quarterbacks coach post after one season, which included overseeing the development of Baker Mayfield. He previously served as the Bengals’ OC. Prior to that promotion, Zampese worked as Cincinnati’s QBs coach from 2013-15, the first of those years overlapping with Jay Gruden‘s Cincy tenure.
  • The five teams that coveted former Dolphins special teams coach Darren Rizzi — the Bills, Jets, Lions, Packers and Vikings — are no longer in the running for Rizzi, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald tweets. But two other teams are interested. Rizzi and incoming Dolphins HC Brian Flores met recently and decided to part ways, per Salguero (on Twitter).
  • Former Dolphins DC Matt Burke will land on the Eagles‘ staff, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Burke succeeded Vance Joseph as Miami’s DC and held the job for two seasons, both of which ending with the Fins being among the worst at preventing points.

Terrance Knighton To Retire

Free agent defensive tackle Terrance Knighton is retiring after eight NFL seasons, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). The 30-year-old will pursue a career in coaching, Schefter adds.

Terrance Knighton

A third-round pick out of Temple in 2009, Knighton spent the first four years of his playing career with the Jaguars before signing with the Broncos in 2013. Knighton was at his best in Denver, where he started in all 32 of his regular-season appearances overall and, in 2014, was part of the NFL’s second-best run defense. The man known as “Pot Roast” finished as Pro Football Focus’ 12th-ranked D-tackle that year, and he left the Broncos the next offseason to sign with the Redskins.

Knighton started in all 15 of his appearances in Washington in 2015, which will go down as his final season. Although he inked a one-year, $4.5MM deal with the Patriots last April, he was unable to make the eventual Super Bowl champions’ roster. They cut Knighton prior to Week 1, and he nearly went on to reunite with the Redskins. However, no deal materialized after he met with them in October.

Knighton’s career concludes with 108 appearances, 96 of which were starts, as well as 14 sacks. PFR wishes him well as he looks to enter the coaching ranks.

NFL Workout Updates: 10/10/16

Well, this is a new one: The Steelers worked out Spanish rugby sevens player Inaki Villanueva, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link), who adds that Villanueva will attempt to make the NFL as a tight end. Villanueva, 25 this week, was part of the Spanish rugby team that competed at the 2016 Summer Olmypics.

Here’s more on today’s tryouts and visits:

Redskins Host Terrance Knighton On Visit

Could Pot Roast return to D.C.? Today, the Redskins are hosting Terrance Knighton on a visit, as Mike Jones of The Washington Post tweets. With Knighton and Phil Taylor in town, the Redskins are clearly looking to bolster the interior of their defensive line. Terrance Knighton (vertical)

[RELATED: Redskins Hosting Phil Taylor On Visit]

After finishing his contract in Denver, Knighton was expected to cash in following the 2014 season. Instead, he found a mild free agent market and settled for a low-priced one-year deal with the Redskins. As a nose tackle in Washington’s 3-4 scheme, Pot Roast logged 29 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 2015. Although he didn’t have quite the same impact last year that he did during his final season as a Bronco, Knighton ranked in the top half of Pro Football Focus’ list of qualified interior defenders, placing 58th out of 123 players. Predictably, PFF assigned Knighton a much better grade as a run defender than as a pass rusher.

This past offseason, he hooked on with the Patriots but was released in late August. Knighton’s release came as something of a surprise, especially given the Pats’ depth concerns on the defensive line. Now, the Redskins need some veteran help on the D-Line and he could circle back there.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Cut Terrance Knighton

The Patriots have had enough Pot Roast. Veteran defensive lineman Terrance Knighton was released by the Pats this morning, as first reported by Knighton himself on Twitter. By cutting Knighton, the Pats save $900K in salary and $3MM in bonuses.Terrance Knighton Patriots (vertical)

This offseason, the Pats inked Knighton to a one-year, $4.5MM deal. However, he struggled in the team’s second preseason game against Chicago and he did not log a single defensive snap during New England’s third preseason contest against Carolina on Friday night. Knighton found himself slipping on the Pats’ depth chart in recent weeks and his salary was no longer justifiable for the team, even though they have seen stars like Rob Ninkovich go down with injuries.

Knighton, who started his career in Jacksonville, spent two seasons in Denver before heading to Washington for the 2015 campaign. The 30-year-old has been very durable in his first seven NFL seasons, appearing in 108 total regular-season games, including 96 starts.

A nose tackle in Washington’s 3-4 scheme, Pot Roast logged 29 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 2015. Although he didn’t have quite the same impact last year that he did during his final season as a Bronco, Knighton ranked in the top half of Pro Football Focus’ list of qualified interior defenders, placing 58th out of 123 players. Predictably, PFF assigned Knighton a much better grade as a run defender than as a pass rusher.

The Patriots now must release six more players by 3pm CT on Tuesday in order to reach the 75 man max.

Photo courtesy of PFR on Instagram.

AFC Notes: Patriots, Broncos, Woodhead

The Patriots signed Terrance Knighton to a one-year, $4.5MM deal this offseason to serve as a key cog in the interior of the club’s defensive front, but now Pot Roast is in danger of being cut, as Kevin Duffy of MassLive.com writes. Knighton struggled in the team’s second preseason game against Chicago, and he did not log a single defensive snap during New England’s third preseason contest against Carolina on Friday night.

Knighton, who insisted that he is completely healthy, expressed his frustration afterwards. He said, “It’s disappointing just because, you know, I’ve played a lot of ball in this league, seen a lot of things. I’m not going to make too much of it. It is what it is. Whatever happens, happens. If I’m here, I’m here. If I’m not, I’m not. I’m just taking it a day at a time.”

If Knighton does indeed receive his walking papers, he should be able to find work with a club looking for a dependable and durable run-stuffer.

Now for some more notes from the AFC:

  • It’s looking more and more like Patriots WR Danny Amendola will stay on the PUP list and miss at least the first six games of the regular season, according to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe.
  • The Patriots had assigned rookie corner Cyrus Jones the same grade as several other players who were still available when the club was set to make its first draft pick (No. 60 overall) this year. As Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes, the team selected Jones because of his dynamic return ability, which he demonstrated in a big way with a 60-yard punt return Friday night. Reiss points out that Jones taking over the role could help preserve 30-year old returners Julian Edelman and Amendola from taking additional pounding.
  • Trevor Siemian likely cemented his status as the Broncos‘ starting quarterback after turning in a solid performance during last night’s preseason victory over Los Angeles, Mike Klis of 9News.com writes. At this point Klis would be surprised if the Broncos didn’t release Mark Sanchez, a move that would save the team $4.5MM and a seventh-round pick.
  • Troy Renck of Denver7 believes that Tavon Austin‘s new four-year, $42MM deal with Los Angeles will set the floor in Emmanuel Sanders‘ contract negotiations with the Broncos (Twitter link). As Renck observes, Sanders is older than Austin, but his production level has thus far been superior.
  • Danny Woodhead is entering the final year of the two-year extension he signed with the Chargers in 2014, and he would like to remain with the club long-term, as Michael Gehlken of The San Diego Union-Tribune writes. However, contract talks between team and player prior to training camp were unproductive, with the Chargers determining it was not in position to extend Woodhead for a variety of cited factors, including cash committed to other contracts this year. Woodhead, though, will not publicly comment on his contract situation, and simply indicated a desire to focus on the 2016 season.

Extra Points: Hardy, Robison, Knighton

Greg Hardy is frustrated that Aldon Smith received a sizable contract from the Raiders while he continues to sit on the shelf, sources tell Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link).

Hardy’s camp is still expecting to land an incentive-laden deal, but interest has not been strong up until this point. According to league sources who spoke with Cole, teams are more concerned about Hardy’s attitude in Dallas last season and stories of his partying than they are about his domestic-abuse allegations.

Here’s some more news from outside the draft realm.

  • Family members are pestering Vikings defensive end Brian Robison to find out about his NFL future and while he’s not certain of what will come next, he does have an idea of what he’d like to do. Robinson says his “ultimate hope” is to play out the remaining two years on his deal, as Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press writes. The veteran is due to earn a base salary of $3.75MM in 2016 and $5.25MM in 2017. Robison racked up at least eight sacks per season from 2011-13. After that, he recorded 4.5 sacks in 2014 and 5.0 sacks last season. For his efforts in 2015, the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus rated him as the 19th-best defensive end out of 48 qualified players.
  • Terrance Knighton consulted Vince Wilfork before signing his one-year deal with the Patriots, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. A Windsor, Conn., native, Knighton grew up a Patriots fan and followed Wilfork’s career closely. Despite being released last year after 11 seasons in New England, Wilfork expressed consistent praise for the Patriots in a long conversation with Knighton, Reiss reports.
  • The Pats have set Knighton up with a nutritionist and included weight clauses in the defensive tackle’s contract, Reiss reports. Washington listed Knighton at 354 pounds last season, and the eighth-year veteran wouldn’t disclose if that was accurate. Although Knighton told media (including Reiss) he weighs less than that now, he doesn’t have an issue with the Patriots‘ weight clauses. “It’s something I’ve paid a lot of attention to this offseason, and it won’t be a problem,” said Knighton, whose weight has likely played a part in failing to secure a long-term deal the past two offseasons. Last year, I was obviously heavier than I am right now. Contractually, I’ll have weights that I need to hit. Whatever the coaches want me to play at, that’s what I’ll be. [Weight concerns are] something that obviously has been an attack on me my whole career.”
  • Andy Mulumba‘s one-year deal with the Chiefs is worth $620K, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. The outside linebacker’s deal is only guaranteed for $10K, however. Mulumba also gets a $10K workout bonus to go along with his $600K base. The native of the Democratic Republic of Congo became a free agent when Green Bay declined to extend him the low-round tender.
  • In a recent mailbag, a reader asked Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune whether the Bears would give up their first-round pick for Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson. The Jets are willing to entertain trade offers from Wilkerson, but they’re not desperate enough to move him cheaply. Chicago, meanwhile, likely needs to build through the draft for a few years to put their plan in motion, and a Wilkerson deal would probably weaken its stockpile.
  • Before Ifo Ekpre-Olomu was claimed off waivers by Miami, the Saints, Bills, and Steelers all tried to claim him, a source tells Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Sam Robinson contributed to this report

Contract Details: A. Smith, V. Davis, Knighton

Here are the latest details on recently signed or agreed-upon contracts from around the NFL. All links are courtesy of Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle unless otherwise indicated.

  • Aldon Smith, OLB (Raiders): Two years, $11.5MM. Annual salaries of $1.25MM. Up to $4MM annually in per-game roster bonuses. $500K annual workout bonus. Up to $3.5MM in annual incentives (Twitter link).
  • Vernon Davis, TE (Washington): One year, $2.4MM. $500K signing bonus. $600K of $1.35MM base salary is guaranteed. $150K roster bonus due on August 22. Up to $300K in per-game roster bonuses. Up to $2.1MM in incentives (Twitter links).
  • Terrance Knighton, DT (Patriots): One year, $2.018MM. $250K signing bonus. Up to $500K in per-game roster bonuses. $100K workout bonus. Up to $300K in performance incentives. Up to $2MM in playing-time incentives. $500K Pro Bowl incentive (links via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
  • Jasper Brinkley, LB (Giants): One year, $1.8MM. $1.2MM base salary is guaranteed. $500K roster bonus paid on April 1. $100K workout bonus. Up to $500K in incentives for playing time (Twitter link)
  • Stefen Wisniewski, C/G (Eagles): One year, $1.51MM. $500K signing bonus. Up to $250K in per-game roster bonuses. Up to $1.25MM in incentives (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports).
  • Wallace Gilberry, DE (Lions): One year, $1.25MM. $340K signing bonus. $25K workout bonus. Up to $500K in incentives for performance and playing time (link via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press).
  • Jack Crawford, DE (Cowboys): One year, $1.1MM. $240K signing bonus. $100K workout de-escalator. Up to $500K in incentives (Twitter link).
  • Spencer Paysinger, LB (Dolphins): One year, minimum salary benefit. $80K signing bonus. $120K of $760K base salary is guaranteed. (Twitter link).
  • Kyle Love, DT (Panthers): One year, minimum salary benefit. $80K signing bonus (Twitter link).