Will Grier

Panthers To Bench Kyle Allen, Start Will Grier

It looks like the move that many Panthers fans have been clamoring for might finally happen. The team is expected to bench Kyle Allen and start rookie Will Grier at quarterback in Week 16, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Allen showed well during a Week 17 spot start last year, and did enough in camp to beat out Grier to be Cam Newton‘s backup at the start of the season. Newton was soon sidelined by his foot injury and eventually placed on injured reserve, so Allen has been starting since Week 3. He had some initial success, and the Panthers won each of his first four starts. There was even some talk of Allen potentially starting over a healthy Newton and being Carolina’s quarterback of the future, but after a hot start he faded pretty fast.

He’s been falling apart in recent weeks, throwing ten interceptions over his past five games. Carolina raised some eyebrows by drafting Grier in the third-round back in April, but he’s yet to take a regular season snap. A West Virginia product, there were some analysts during his last year in college who thought he was a first or second round prospect. He slipped a bit as the pre-draft process went on, and ended up going 100th overall.

He’ll now be seeing his first regular season action on the road against the Colts. The Panthers have one of the most interesting offseasons ahead of them of any team, with reports suggesting they might look to move on from Newton this spring. With so much uncertainty at the position, it makes sense why they’d want to take a look at Grier over the final two games.

With this move, Allen’s days as a starter are likely over for the foreseeable future. It was a nice story for a while, and his rapid rise and fall are a good reminder that nothing lasts long in the National Football League. A second-year UDFA from Houston, Allen can be brought back cheaply next year so it’s possible he’ll once again be Carolina’s backup in 2020.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Schobert, Panthers, Chargers

Joe Schobert is having one of his best NFL seasons, but the Browns haven’t reached out about signing the impending free agent. The linebacker told reporters that he hasn’t received any offers from the organization (via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com on Twitter).

The former fourth-rounder earned a Pro Bowl nod back in 2017, and he’s followed that up with two additional 100-plus-tackle seasons. That includes the current 2019 campaign, as Schobert has compiled 110 tackles, two sacks, nine passes defended, four interceptions, and a pair of forced fumbles.

If the linebacker were to hit free agency, there would surely be teams lining up for his services. For what it’s worth, Schobert told reporters that in a “perfect world,” he’d be in a Cleveland uniform come 2020.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Kyle Allen has filled in admirably for Cam Newton, but it doesn’t sound like he has a solid hold on the Panthers starting gig for the rest of the season. Interim head coach Perry Fewell told reporters that the quarterback situation is a “day to day, week to week situation” (via The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue on Twitter). Even if Allen doesn’t struggle, it makes sense for Carolina to see what they’ve got in rookie third-rounder Will Grier. The West Virginia product hasn’t seen the field this season, while Allen has tossed 16 touchdowns vs. 12 interceptions in his 11 games (11 starts).
  • Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said it was a “coach’s decision” to send home linebacker Denzel Perryman and safety Roderic Teamer on Saturday, according to Jeff Miller of the LA Times (on Twitter). ESPN’s Eric Williams tweets that the pair missed a morning meeting in Jacksonville, all leading to Lynn’s decision. Perryman has started 11 games this season, while Teamer has appeared in seven games.
  • Cowboys safety Jeff Heath said he may need shoulder surgery to repair labrum damage (via Calvin Watkins of the Dallas News on Twitter). The 28-year-old continues to play through the injury, and Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News tweets that there’s hope Heath can avoid the procedure until the offseason. The safety has started 10 games this season, compiling 45 tackles and five passes defended.

Panthers Notes: Newton, HC Candidates, Bradberry

Panthers QB Cam Newton will undergo foot surgery, and as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes, Newton is expected to be fully ready and able by March. Rapoport says Carolina has not ruled out retaining Newton — not that the team would publicly say anything different — but the expectation remains that the Panthers will look to trade the former No. 1 overall pick,

The QB market may be unusually robust in 2020, and Newton may be the most desirable piece. The Panthers will not give Newton away, but if they “get a large deal to make it worth their while,” they will pull the trigger.

Now for more out of Charlotte:

  • Of course, what the Panthers do with Newton may depend on who they hire as their permanent head coach. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reiterates his view that the Panthers will seek an offensive-minded or QB-driven coach, and what that person thinks of Newton, Kyle Allen, and Will Grier could impact the club’s offseason plans in a big way.
  • In the same piece linked above, Rapoport suggests that owner David Tepper will of course be on the lookout for a top-flight coordinator and someone who is unafraid to embrace analytics, but he suggests that Tepper’s top priority will be a strong manager of people. RapSheet names ex-Packers coach Mike McCarthy, 49ers DC Robert Saleh, and Ravens OC Greg Roman as just a few of the possibilities.
  • Even if the Panthers retain GM Marty Hurney — which is not a guarantee — Adam Schefter of ESPN.com says Tepper, the former minority owner of the Steelers, could look to bring familiar faces from Pittsburgh to Carolina. Tepper plans to name an assistant general manager to focus on pro personnel evaluation and a vice president of football operations, and sources say he could be eyeing Steelers GM Kevin Colbert — whose contract is up at the end of the season — and/or vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan.
  • The Panthers have 28 players eligible for free agency this offseason, and Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic examines the decisions that the team will have to make with respect to a few of those players. The club just signed LB Shaq Thompson to a four-year extension, and Rodrigue’s source says the Panthers have made CB James Bradberry their next top priority.

Panthers Sticking With Kyle Allen

Changes have been aplenty recently in Carolina, but new Panthers offensive playcaller Scott Turner made clear there will not be a change at quarterback, according to Max Henson of the Panthers team website. While Kyle Allen has been the team’s replacement for injured star Cam Newton, recent struggles led some to call for rookie Will Grier.

Allen, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Houston, served as Carolina’s backup in his rookie season and was thrust into action after Newton was forced to rest a painful foot injury. At first, Allen looked like a potential star, leading Carolina to four straight victories while throwing 7 touchdowns and no interceptions. The team is just 1-5 since, however, and Allen has thrown more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (8).

The future of the Panthers quarterback position remains one of the biggest offseason questions in the league. Newton’s contract allows the team to trade or release him and save over $19MM in cap space. However, he remains the best quarterback in their franchise’s history and is not very far removed from being one of the best players in the NFL. He would immediately become one of the most intriguing players on the trade market or as a free agent (if the team released him).

If the Panthers believe Allen is a legitimate franchise quarterback, his extremely team-friendly contract could allow the team to recoup draft capital for Newton while using the cap savings to sure up other positions. Who’s decision that will be remains unclear. After firing head coach Ron Rivera, new ownership, led by David Tepper, will likely want the next head coach involved in making that decision. By sticking with Allen, it will give the Panthers organization-and whoever joins them-a greater chance to evaluate his prospects.

Cam Newton To Miss Time?

Following Thursday night’s game, Ron Rivera said Cam Newton‘s early-season struggles were not due to injury. The Panthers’ stance has changed on this front, and their ninth-year quarterback looks set to miss time.

Newton informed Panthers officials of foot pain after the team’s loss to the Buccaneers last Thursday, David Newton of ESPN.com notes. No solid timeline for the former MVP’s return exists, per GM Marty Hurney. This is another mid-foot sprain, per Albert Breer of SI.com (on Twitter). Newton suffered this injury in Week 3 of the preseason and re-aggravated it Thursday. He missed nearly two weeks of practice recovering from the initial foot injury.

It almost certainly sounds like Kyle Allen will start this week against the Cardinals. Allen, who finished last season as the Panthers’ starter, resides in front of third-round rookie Will Grier on Carolina’s depth chart. The Panthers do not plan to sign a veteran in the interim, Rivera added.

Newton initially suffered this foot injury in his short preseason cameo. He played in the Panthers’ first two games but was not especially effective, finishing Week 2 with a 48% completion rate. The Panthers have lost Newton’s past eight starts, this record coinciding with the former MVP’s foot and shoulder maladies. Newton has delivered the highest percentage of uncatchable passes through two games, per Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo (on Twitter).

Allen and Grier split reps in practice Tuesday. This could be a multi-game absence. The Panthers travel to Arizona and Houston in Weeks 3-4 before returning home to face the Jaguars. Carolina’s bye is not until Week 7.

NFC Notes: 49ers, Newton, Lions, Vikings

After a report indicated the 49ers brought longtime offensive line coach Chris Foerster out of coaching exile surfaced Friday, Kyle Shanahan confirmed as much. The third-year 49ers coach said Foerster joined San Francisco’s staff as a consultant. Consultants do not serve as in-game coaches, and Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area notes the 49ers have Foerster working on film and in position group meetings. Shanahan said the 49ers brought on Foerster as a consultant last year and elevated his duties in 2019, though the 57-year-old assistant — who has 20-plus years of NFL coaching experience — is still classified as a consultant. Shanahan and Foerster worked together in Washington.

He is still in a consulting role because I do understand the seriousness of this matter,” Shanahan said of Foerster, who resigned from the Dolphins in 2017 after a video showed him snorting a white powdery substance. “We’re trying to ease him back in. I understand how big of a problem he did have. I also understand what he’s doing in committing to fix that problem. We’re trying to give him a chance to get back on track.

He’s done that exactly the right way for two years. We will see if he continues to do that, and then we will reassess that after this year.”

Here is the latest from the NFC:

  • Some positive news for Cam Newton. Although the Panthers quarterback remains in a walking boot and without a definitive return timetable, Jordan Rodrigue of The Athletic notes (subscription required) the team was encouraged by the follow-up MRI the ninth-year passer underwent. If Newton continues to progress in his recovery from a mid-foot sprain, Rodrigue adds he is expected to participate in practice in some capacity Monday. This would point to the veteran being ready for Week 1. Kyle Allen received first crack at Newton’s reps Saturday, but David Newton of ESPN.com notes Will Grier split time evenly with Carolina’s presumptive QB2. Ron Rivera confirmed the Panthers will not work out quarterbacks.
  • More good news on the injury front. Matt Patricia said (via the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers, on Twitter) he is not considering an IR trip for Jarrad Davis, who was carted to the Lions‘ locker room Friday night. Davis suffered a lower-leg injury against the Bills. Were Davis to be placed on IR in between next weekend and Week 1, he would miss at least eight regular-season weeks. This points to the Lions expecting him back during the first half of the season, at the latest.
  • Frank Ragnow, too, appears to have dodged a bullet. The Lions center suffered what’s being categorized as a minor ankle sprain Friday, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. The Lions are typically vague regarding injuries, with Patricia declining to elaborate on the nature of those suffered by Ragnow and Davis. But the second-year coach said (via Rogers) neither player is believed to have suffered a season-nullifying malady.
  • The Vikings and since-cut long snapper Kevin McDermott agreed to an injury settlement, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. McDermott suffered an elbow injury, which required surgery this week, and will collect $150K via this settlement. Austin Cutting beat out the longtime incumbent for Minnesota’s snapping job.

Panthers Optimistic Newton Can Play Week 1

Cam Newton left Thursday night’s game early due to injury, and Panthers GM Marty Hurney said Friday the ninth-year quarterback suffered a sprained foot. Newton left Gillette Stadium in a walking boot.

The Panthers are “cautiously optimistic” Newton will be able to suit up in Week 1, David Newton of ESPN.com notes. While Hurney called the injury a “mild” sprain, it is officially a mid-foot sprain, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link).

A first-quarter sack (Twitter link via SI.com’s Albert Breer) ended Newton’s night and shifted uncertainty surrounding the Carolina quarterback from his throwing shoulder to his left foot. This particular injury can linger. Although Newton has been incredibly durable throughout his career, this is certainly not ideal after the months of shoulder rehab the 30-year-old passer went through this year.

Newton’s troublesome throwing shoulder, which required another surgery in January, prompted the Panthers to hold him out of their first two preseason games. It may now come down to the wire for Week 1 because of this sprain. Newton has battled shoulder problems since 2017 and underwent left ankle surgery in 2014. He has only missed five games in his career.

Carolina featured an underwhelming contingent of backups behind Newton last season but drafted Will Grier in this year’s third round. Rivera turned to Kyle Allen over Grier after Newton’s exit Thursday, however, pointing to the former UDFA (and Week 17 Panthers starter) being first in line to replace Newton if necessary. The Panthers do not plan to bring in any additional quarterbacks, with Rapoport adding Allen indeed will likely take the majority of the first-team reps in near-future practices.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Sign Will Grier, Four Other Draft Picks

The Panthers announced that they’ve signed the following five draft picks:

Grier is unquestionably the most interesting name on the list, as he’ll give Carolina a more reputable backup quarterback than it had in 2019. Both Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen failed in their respective starts in relief of Cam Newton, so Grier will attempt to to improve on that production.

There’s good reason to think Grier has a chance at NFL success. Some draft analysts considered him the second-best quarterback in the draft behind Kyler Murray, although Grier’s advanced rookie age (24) is a knock against him. The West Virginia product threw with the highest velocity at the scouting combine, and ranked second behind Murray in Josh Hermsmeyer of FiveThirtyEight.com‘s completion percentage over expected, which attempts to value a quarterbacks’s production relative to the depth of his attempted throws.

With five members of their draft class down, Carolina needs only to sign first-round defensive end Brian Burns and second-round offensive tackle Greg Little.

Giants Targeting Late First-Round QB?

The Giants could theoretically pass on quarterbacks at No. 6 and No. 17 overall and still come away with a QB tonight. Talk is spreading about the Giants potentially trading back into the first round to land either West Virginia’s Will Grier or North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY reports (on Twitter). 

Neither Finley nor Grier has garnered as much ink as top QBs Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, and Daniel Jones. Still, the Giants have holes to fill and a big desire to bolster their pass rush, so rumor has it they may pass on all four with their first two choices. It’s worth noting that Vacchiano doesn’t believe the Giants “love” Finley, so Grier could be their preferred target.

The Seahawks (picks Nos. 21, 29) and the Colts (No. 26) have shown an interest in trading back, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), so either club could be a match for the Giants in this scenario.

Meanwhile, GM Dave Gettleman seems to be hinting that the Giants will not take a QB at all in the first round.

We want to come out of [the first round] with two legitimate starters [who] can step in and help us win now,” Gettleman told NFL Network (via PFT).

Meanwhile, Gettleman confirmed that a rookie quarterback would not start ahead of Eli Manning.

No, he wouldn’t [start right away], but it’s the position,” Gettleman said. “The worse place you can be is quarterback hell.”

Draft Rumors: QBs, Gary, Pats, Giants, Lions

Kyler Murray-to-Arizona still looks to be in the cards (no pun intended), but the Nos. 2-4 quarterback landing spots — and the order in which they will be drafted — remain murky. While Dwayne Haskins‘ reported slide has led to some predicting Drew Lock would benefit, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes the Missouri product has a “very real chance” of being the fourth quarterback selected and/or falling out of the first round. Connected to Lock prior to their Joe Flacco trade, the Broncos would be intrigued by the prospect of nabbing Lock in Round 2, per JLC, who tabs Denver as more likely to address a bigger immediate need in the first round. The Broncos visited with Lock during the process, as did several other teams with some degree of a need at quarterback.

Here is the latest from the draft world, continuing with some of this year’s passing prospects:

  • If Lock’s floor may be more open-ended, La Canfora tabs the Redskins being Haskins’. Washington has done work on the Ohio State alum, along with the other high-profile QBs in this draft. The Raiders have also been “super impressed” by the 2018 breakout star, but they have been reported as being unlikely to use one of their three first-round picks on a quarterback.
  • The other quarterback mentioned as a first-round possibility, Daniel Jones has intrigued the Patriots, per JLC. New England holds pick No. 32 but has a draft-high 12 picks (including six in the first three rounds) and has plenty of ammo to move up. The Pats hosted Jones on a visit last week. New England has not taken a first-round quarterback since Drew Bledsoe 26 years ago, but NFL.com’s Gil Brandt would not be surprised if this happened (Twitter link).
  • Both the Giants and Panthers have done plenty of work on Will Grier, La Canfora adds. The West Virginia passer profiles as someone who could be available in Round 2. New York holds pick No. 37, Carolina No. 47. This is the latest we’ve heard on the Panthers’ interest in Grier. Although Carolina brass has reportedly not done more research than usual on quarterbacks in preparing for this draft, Cam Newton has not resumed throwing and is going through extensive shoulder rehab in a second offseason in three years.
  • Linked to safeties for two offseasons now, the Cowboys brought in six for pre-draft visits. Stephen Jones mentioned (via Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams) the position as having the least amount of resources put into it of any on the Cowboys’ roster. After bypassing this need in last year’s draft, Dallas will be a team to monitor on this front.
  • It does not appear the Lions will be making a move up in the first round. Bob Quinn could foresee his team trading down but does not believe (via the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers) he has enough draft capital — one pick in each of the first five rounds — to vault up from No. 8. Detroit has been mentioned as a stealth quarterback seeker, but trading up for one does not appear to be in the cards.
  • Lastly, another member of this year’s stellar defensive line class may not check out medically. Some teams have red flags on Rashan Gary, La Canfora notes. While the Michigan lineman is still expected to go in the first round, he may be available a bit later than expected. Should this report of health concerns related to Gary be accurate, he would join Mississippi State products Montez Sweat (who had a heart issue at the Combine) and Jeffery Simmons (pre-Combine ACL tear) as standout pass rushers who have encountered medical issues.