The Panthers have signed free agent wide receiver Trevor Graham, the club announced Monday. Graham, an ex-third-round pick of the Bills, formerly went by the first name T.J., but has since reverted to his given name. Carolina also signed center Greg Van Roten, waived/injured wideout Charles Johnson, and waived defensive end Ryan Delaire with a failed physical designation.
Graham, who turns 28 years old later this week, is now the 13th receiver on Carolina’s roster, and if he makes the club, it will likely be because of his speed. A track athlete while at North Carolina State, Graham averaged 27 receptions and 342 yards during his first two years in the league (both with Buffalo), but hasn’t contributed on offense since.
While Graham’s skillset seemingly should make him a solid return man in the kicking game, that’s not a role he’s been asked to play throughout his NFL career. He’s returned just seven kickoffs during his time in the league, and has never returned a punt. In fact, in his two seasons with the Bills, Graham played only three total special teams snaps.
As such, it will be difficult for Graham to earn a spot on the Panthers’ roster unless he carves out a role as a deep threat à la Ted Ginn Jr. Given that Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess, Russell Shepard are locks to make Carolina’s squad, Graham will be competing with the likes of Damiere Byrd, Brenton Bersin, and Kaelin Clay for reps during training camp.
Johnson — not to be confused with his former defensive end teammate of the same name — won’t be part of that receiver group, as he’s been cut following right knee surgery. He’ll go through waivers but won’t be claimed due to his injury, so he’ll revert to the Panthers’ injured reserve list. At that point, Carolina could agree to an injury settlement with the former Viking in order to clear him from IR. Johnson, 28, signed a one-year deal with a maximum value of $2.2MM earlier this offseason.
Delaire, meanwhile, played 139 defensive snaps for the Panthers a season ago in between two separate stints on injured reserve. In six games, Delaire managed five tackles, one sack, and one pass defensed.
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