Why 2019 is so crucial for Panthers’ Cam Newton

The lengthening of superstar NFL quarterback careers in recent years has thrown out of whack the perspective that once informed where QB are in their arc, and how much time they have left.

In 2019, two NFL starting quarterbacks (Tom Brady and Drew Brees) will be over 40, and at least eight of them — 25 percent of the league’s presumptive Week 1 starters — will be at least 34 years old. Of those, only Eli Manning appears to show signs of decline or readiness to retire.

Once upon a time, a quarterback turning 30, as Cam Newton did last month, might have seemed like a significant milestone. Nowadays, however, it more than likely only means that a passer has another decade left of his career. Obviously, injuries and a few other factors can play a hand, especially for a quarterback who takes so much contact. But short of something catastrophic, there’s little reason to assume Newton should think his days are numbered.

Newton, coming off shoulder surgery in late January, is scheduled to throw in quarterback drills, though on a pitch count and aiming at stationary targets, when the Panthers open mini-camp Tuesday. This isn’t the first time Newton has thrown a football since undergoing the procedure, as the world found out earlier this month when a fan’s video of Newton throwing on a practice field made waves online, much to the dismay of Panthers head coach Ron Rivera.

After eight seasons, it’s fair to presume that Cam is right about at the midpoint of his career. Sadly, he’s beginning the second half returning from a serious injury, one that derailed what had been something of a comeback season for the quarterback. While Newton is among the league’s biggest stars, and has put together moments and short stretches of greatness, he has struggled to produce at the elite level on a year-to-year basis in the NFL.

Newton’s 2015 MVP season, albeit one where he fell just short of a championship, seemed to be a realization of the early career progression. He had reached the zenith and appeared at the time there to stay, until he wasn’t. Newton regressed considerably the following year, and didn’t return to dominating form again until 2018, even if the second half of last season was marred by struggle through injury. That dip in performance wasn’t entirely Newton’s fault, as Carolina has been frustratingly unable to surround its star quarterback with comparable talent in the receiving corps. The hire of Norv Turner last year, as mocked as it was at the time, inoculated life into play-calling that had become stagnant in Carolina.

Hopefully that means Newton can establish some consistency in the years to come. As Turner tells it, Cam has displayed urgency in his effort to be back on the field in time for the start of this coming season. “He’s really attacked this rehab, and he’s done everything he could possibly do physically to get back to where he is with the shoulder,” Turner told SI. “It’s been good for him to concentrate on the mental part of it. There’s only so much he can do, without throwing. And he’s really grown there, without being able to throw.”

That’s a significant leap from initial fears in January that Newton might have to miss a season to recover. Owner David Tepper tried to put a positive spin on it at the time, saying the wait would be worth it to get their franchise quarterback back to 100 percent. But there’s no denying that it would be a frustrating setback to Newton and those who want to see him realize his potential.

With the younger weapons in the Panthers’ offense starting to reach maturation,  there’s reason to believe Newton can make strides again this season if his health cooperates. Receiver D.J. Moore aims to build off an encouraging rookie season and Christian McCaffrey in 2018 proved himself worthy of the first-round pick the Panthers spent on him the year before.

This may not be a make-or-break season for Newton, but assuming he’s fortunate enough not to have his health be a deterrent for the second straight year, it can be pivotal and set him up for a back half of a career that might place him among the greats.

By: Michael Tunison

Original Article

The Best & Worst Quarterback in Each NFL Team’s History

Best: Arizona Cardinals – Jim Hart

The Arizona Cardinals franchise has been around for almost an entire century, at least in some capacity. But over that time, the team has had only six quarterbacks ever selected to the Pro Bowl, and only one of them who was selected to the NFL’s All-Star game more than twice.

That would be Jim Hart, who was the team’s full-time starter between 1967 through 1981. Hart threw 209 touchdowns in that span, which is over 70 touchdown passes more than any other quarterback in franchise history.

Worst: Arizona Cardinals – Ryan Lindley

Fans of the Arizona Cardinals have probably blocked out as much of the Ryan Lindley experience from their collective minds as possible. In his first season in Arizona, Lindley finished the year with a 46.7 passer rating, having thrown seven interceptions and no touchdowns.

After entering the NFL in 2012, Lindley didn’t throw his first official touchdown pass until 2014, when he rejoined the Cardinals after a one-year stint on the practice squad of the San Diego Chargers. In four seasons of professional football, including one season in the Canadian Football League, Lindley threw 4 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Best: Atlanta Falcons – Matt Ryan

The Atlanta Falcons have had a few good-to-very good quarterbacks since the start of the 1990’s, ranging from guys like Chris Miller (a former Pro Bowl selection) to Michael Vick (once the most exciting player in the NFL). But none of those guys could hold a candle to what Matt Ryan has done for the Falcons’ franchise.

Worst: Atlanta Falcons – Randy Johnson

Long before a near-7-foot baseball pitcher made the name famous, Randy Johnson was a starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons back in the late 1960’s…. And he was a terrible one to boot.

After winning only three games in his rookie year in 1966 (out of 11 starts), he actually managed to win even less games the following four years in Atlanta, winning a grand total of 5 times in 26 starts in the ensuing four years he was the starter.

Best: Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco

Even though the Baltimore Ravens were really the reincarnation of the relocated Cleveland Browns, since the Browns were awarded a new franchise with the same name, we’re treating the Ravens as a separate franchise in and of its own.

Given that the Ravens haven’t really had an illustrious history at the quarterback position, it’s hard to give this designation to anyone other than Joe Flacco.

Flacco is the only quarterback in team history to play in more than 53 games for the franchise, and no other quarterback in team history has come close to his total career touchdown passes, passing yards, and total wins as a starter.

Worst: Baltimore Ravens – Elvis Grbac

A year after the Baltimore Ravens dumped quarterback Trent Dilfer after taking the team to the Super Bowl, they qualified for the postseason once again with Elvis Grbac under center. Prior to that, Grbac had spent four season nas the starter for the Kansas City Chiefs, where he never won more than nine games as a starter.

Grback and the Ravens defeated the Miami Dolphins by a 20-3 score in the Wild Card roung of the playoffs, before losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers the following week. The Ravens released Grbac in a salary cap move after he refused to renegotiate his contract, and Grbac retired after being released.

Best: Buffalo Bills – Jim Kelly

Jim Kelly might be tied for third place in most Super Bowl appearances by an NFL quarterback, and he might be one of only seven quarterbacks in NFL history to make it to the Super Bowl four times, but no quarterback in the history of the game has led his team to the Super Bowl four straight years. None, that is, except Jim Kelly.

The maestro of the Buffalo Bills’ “K-Gun” offense terrorized opposing defenses from 1989 and 1992, perennially leading the Bills to the highest offensive ranks each year. He finished his career with over 35,000 passing yards, currently sitting in 25th place all time. But for all those Super Bowl appearances and all those passing yards, Kelly will never have a ring to show for them.

Worst: Buffalo Bills – Alex Van Pelt

Despite the fact that Alex Van Pelt left the University of Pittsburgh having broken many records established by some guy named Dan Marino, Alex Van Pelt started his career as a backup quarterback, but took over as the starter of the Buffalo Bills in 1994 after Jim Kelly would suffer a major knee injury.

But that would be one of the only times that Van Pelt actually started; in nine years in Buffalo, Van Pelt started 11 games, finishing with a career 3-8 record in those starts.

Best: Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton

Unless you happen to be relative of Kerry Collins or Jake Delhomme, it’s hard to believe anyone could think this designation would belong to anyone other than Cam Newton. The #1 overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, Newton is the only quarterback in franchise history to be named to an All-Pro team (2015) and be selected to the Pro Bowl multiple times.

In 2015, Newton ran roughshod through the NFL, throwing 35 touchdowns and running for 10 more, leading the Panthers to Super Bowl 50, and being named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.

Worst: Carolina Panthers – Jimmy Clausen

Never in history has there been a player for with the combination of breathtaking hype and incredible failure like Jimmy Clausen. The most over-recruited player in NCAA history to date, Clausen’s lackluster career at Notre Dame led him to fall to the 2nd round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

The Carolina Panthers, who selected him, decided to throw him to the proverbial wolves in his rookie year, and Clausen got eaten alive: three touchdowns and nine interceptions in 10 games as a starter. He had a huge hand in the Panthers finishing with a 2-14 record, and Carolina saw enough of him in that one year to decide to draft his replacement — Cam Newton — just one year after taking Clausen.

Best: Chicago Bears – Sid Luckman

Though the Chicago Bears franchise has had some of the most iconic names in NFL history on its roster, including Walter Payton, Dick Butkus, and Mike Singletary, they haven’t had anything close to that at the quarterback position. The franchise forever known for its “Monsters of the Midway” defense haven’t boasted a truly elite NFL quarterback since Sid Luckman played under center for them in the 1940’s, under legendary coach George Halas.

Though Luckman’s passing yardage and touchdown pass totals were eventually surpassed by Jay Cutler, the latter is not — and will never be — a five-time All-Pro selection and Hall of Fame inductee like Luckman.

Worst: Chicago Bears – Bob Avellini

For all the glory the Chicago Bears have had on the defensive side of the football (and at the running back position), that hasn’t been shared at the quarterback spot. The history of the Bears franchise is filled with guys like Bob Avellini, who had one winning season during his first four years in the NFL.

Avellini finished his nine-year career in Chicago with more than a 2:1 ratio of interceptions to touchdowns (throwing 69 interceptions to only 33 touchdowns).

Best: Cincinnati Bengals – Ken Anderson

Most people might associate Boomer Esiason or Carson Palmer when thinking of the best quarterback in Cincinnati Bengals history, but that honor quite certainly belongs to Ken Anderson, the team’s starting quarterback from 1972 through 1984. Anderson has thrown for more yards and passing touchdowns than any quarterback in team history, and has 24 more wins than any other quarterback as well.

During the 1981 season, Anderson had a career-best 3,754 passing yards and 29 touchdowns, leading the Bengals to a 12-4 record and their first-ever Super Bowl appearance (when they’d lose to the San Francisco 49ers).

Worst: Cincinnati Bengals – Akili Smith

A one-year wonder who parlayed that brief success into the #3 overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, Smith’s NFL career was an unmitigated disaster. First, the Bengals turned down the “Godfather” offer from the New Orleans Saints; Mike Ditka was selling the farm to move up to grab Ricky Williams, allegedly offering the Bengals a whopping nine draft picks (Cincinnati turned down the offer). He started off his tenure in Cincinnati completely on the wrong foot, missing a substantial portion of the team’s training camp, which many believed irreparably stunted his development in the NFL.

Of course, once he did sign, his off-the-field habits didn’t help either. Smith was later quoted as having given in to the temptations of his high draft selection, flying back and forth between Cincinnati and San Diego to party with his friends and multiple women regularly; he’s called himself “a complete embarrassment off the field.” Smith played in 22 NFL games and posted a career passer rating of 52.8. In one year at Oregon, he threw for 30 touchdown passes; in four seasons in the NFL, he threw for a total of five.

Full List

By: Raj nanavati

Top takeaways from Sunday’s Week 14 NFL action

Sunday’s Week 14 NFL action was about as crazy as it gets. From the Miracle in Miami to Amari Cooper’s brilliant performance in Big D, we were treated to a whole heck of a lot of drama.

The early-afternoon slate included Baker Mayfield and the Browns making a major statement in a win over the reeling Panthers. Meanwhile, the Cowboys pretty much ended the NFC East race with a win over the defending champions later in the afternoon.

These are among the top takeaways from one of the most eventful Sunday’s of NFL football we’ve seen in some time.

Rams offense exposed in a big way

The Chicago Bears’ recipe for success Sunday night against a one-loss Los Angeles Rams team was pretty obvious. Their Vic Fangio-led defense focused primarily on stopping Todd Gurley, forcing Jared Goff to pretty much go it alone. The end result was an offensive performance from the Rams that we have not seen since the Jeff Fisher days.

Goff competed 20-of-44 passes for 180 yards with four interceptions in the 15-6 loss. Meanwhile, Gurley went for just 28 yards on 11 attempts. Making the Rams’ offense one dimensional proved to be successful for Chicago. And we can expect other teams to follow suit as the season comes to a conclusion.

Mark Sanchez makes Colin Kaepernick’s case for him

The Washington Redskins’ decision to avoid Colin Kaepernick in free agency has come under fire recently. Once Alex Smith was lost for the season to a potentially career-ending leg injury, the Redskins decided to bring in Mark Sanchez off the streets. When Colt McCoy also suffered a serious lower-body injury, Washington added a quarterback in Josh Johnson who has not attempted a regular season pass since 2011.

All the while, Kaepernick remains unsigned as he continues with a collusion case against the NFL. If Sanchez’s performed during Sunday’s 40-16 loss to the Giants is any indication, Kaepernick is smiling ear to ear. Sanchez completed just 5-of-13 passes for net 16 passing yards with two interceptions in the first half alone. That included an absolutely brutal pick-six. All said, Sanchez finished the game with nine net passing yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions before getting benched in the blowout loss. Gross.

Dallas avoids meltdown, takes control of NFC East

There’s a reason the Cowboys exhausted a first-round pick in a trade for Amari Cooper back in October. The former Oakland Raiders Pro Bowler has been absolutely dynamite since joining the Cowboys, catching 30 passes for 425 yards in five games. Cooper was back at it Sunday against the division rival Philadelphia Eagles. He nabbed 10 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns. That included this long score to put Dallas up late in the third quarter.

Even then, the Cowboys couldn’t separate themselves from Philadelphia. Instead, the Eagles forced overtime despite having yielded nearly 600 total yards of offense. That’s when Cooper came up big time. On third down and long from the Eagles’ 15, Cooper caught his third score of the game in walk-off fashion. By virtue of the 32-26 win, Dallas now boasts an almost insurmountable two-game lead in the NFC East.

Panthers are now completely toast

Losers of four consecutive heading into Sunday’s game against the Browns, Carolina needed to get off the schneid in order to remain in the NFC Playoff race. Whether it was the team’s inability to stop Baker Mayfield or Cam Newton’s struggles in the red zone, it just didn’t happen. In the end, these Panthers lost by the score of 26-20 to fall to 6-7 on the season.

For his part, Newton completed 26-of-42 passes for 265 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception. Four of the Panthers’ drives in Cleveland’s end of the field resulted in a grand total of three points. That included a turnover on downs inside the 10 with the game on the line. Yeah, these Panthers are now officially declawed.

Broncos drop the ball big time

There wasn’t really any reason to believe that the Broncos would go to Santa Clara and come away with a loss against the two-win San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. San Francisco had lost three consecutive games by a combined 49 points. The Broncos were in the midst of a three-game winning streak with victories over the Chargers and Steelers during that span.

Unfortunately for head coach Vance Joseph and Co., the team simply didn’t come to play in the first half. Denver trailed 20-0 at halftime with 49ers tight end George Kittle putting up north of 200 yards in the first two quarters. A valiant second half comeback attempt fell short. Now at 6-7 on the season, one can reasonably conclude the Broncos won’t be playing playoff football. If so, this one loss will be a primary reason why.

Patrick Mahomes is the NFL MVP

All the Takeaways

By Vincent Frank

 

Winners and losers from ‘Thursday Night Football’ in Week 10

Most around the NFL anticipated a highly competitive game between the red-hot Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers on “Thursday Night Football.”

Carolina had won three consecutive games while the Steelers were in the midst of a four-game winning streak. What transpired was anything but competitive.

Cam Newton threw an early pick-six. JuJu Smith-Schuster broke the Panthers’ will with a 75-yard touchdown. Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger had two more touchdowns than incomplete passes.

These are among the winners and losers from Pittsburgh’s blowout 52-21 win over Carolina on Thursday night.

Winner: Vince Williams shows out as playmaker for Pittsburgh

Pressure from T.J. Watt might have forced Cam Newton’s hand. But that doesn’t mean Williams didn’t come away with a game-altering play less than five minutes into the first quarter. With the game tied at seven, he picked off this Newton pass and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown. It was the Steelers’ second score in 13 seconds and set the stage for the remainder of the evening.

Not to be outdone by that one play, Williams also tallied four tackles, one quarterback hit and one sack in the 52-21 Steelers win. He simply played some tremendous football in front of the home crowd at Heinz Field Thursday evening.

Loser: Le’Veon Bell’s value continues to diminish

Pittsburgh’s offense is an absolute juggernaut. It proved this in more ways than one against a good Carolina Panthers defense Thursday night. When all was said and done inside Heinz Field, the Steelers dropped a cool 457 yards and 52 points in one of the biggest blowouts in primetime television that we’ve seen in some time.

Now that Bell’s holdout has continued through nine games, second-year back James Conner continues to show out. He put up 73 total yards on 14 touches, including a touchdown. This led to an official NFL Twitter account trolling Bell big time. The more Conner continues to dominate, the less valuable Bell becomes. Thursday’s blowout win over Carolina was the latest example of this.

Winner: Christian McCaffrey continues recent success

Coming off a brilliant 157-yard performance last week against the Buccaneers, this second-year back came into Thursday’s game on pace for nearly 1,800 total yards this season. Immediately out of the gate, McCaffrey showed why Carolina made him a top-10 pick in the first place. He tallied 60 total yards on six touches, including this 20-yard touchdown catch from Cam Newton, to open the scoring on Carolina’s first drive of the game.

McCaffrey then scored Carolina’s second touchdown in the first half, a 25-yard pass from Newton to pull the game within 24-14. Sure, the Panthers’ defense did nothing to help them win this game. But a star is being born in Carolina right in front of our eyes. All said, McCaffrey gained 138 total yards on 19 touches with all three Panthers touchdowns in the game. That included five catches for 61 yards. He’s in domination mode right now.

Loser: Cam Newton comes up small

All the winners and losers here

By Vincent Frank

Projecting the first loss of every NFL team

Eagles Trade Torrey Smith

Written by Ryan Wilson at CBS Sports.com

The Eagles might be a month removed from their first Super Bowl title, but they’re not taking anything for granted. The team will trade wide receiver Torrey Smith to the Panthers  for cornerback Daryl Worley, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The move comes days after Philadelphia bolstered its defensive line, acquiring Michael Bennett from the Seahawks.

Worley, originally a 2012 third-round pick out of West Virginia, now gets a chance to play in his hometown. In two seasons in Carolina, he started 25 games and had three interceptions, 19 passes defended and two sacks. Worley was a replacement-level talent last season, according to Pro Football Focus, where he ranked 79th out of 120 cornerbacks. As a rookie, he ranked 33rd overall, and the hope is that Worley will flourish on an Eagles defense that was among the league’s best a season ago.

The latest offseason maneuvering reiterates the point made by Warren Sharp and others about how teams with young, relatively inexpensive quarterbacks are building to win titles right now.

Smith, meanwhile, gives the Panthers a much-needed deep threat. He started 14 games last season but had just 36 receptions for 430 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ well-balanced offense. In Carolina, running back Christian McCaffrey was the leading receiver, hauling in 80 passes. He was followed by Devin Funchess (63 receptions), which goes a long way in explaining why the Panthers would be interested in Smith, who averaged 20.1 yards per reception with the 49ers in 2015.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Panthers Davis Gets Two Game Suspension For Hit In Panthers Game

Written by Stanley Kay at SI.com

The NFL is suspending Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis two games for an illegal hit that concussed Packers wide receiver Davante Adams, the league announced Monday.

Davis will appeal the ban, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

The incident took place during the third quarter of Sunday’s game between the Panthers and Packers. Davis drilled Adams with an illegal blindside hit with helmet-to-helmet contact.

In issuing the suspension, NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan cited Davis’s targeting of a defenseless player.

Davis apologized in a tweet to Adams on Monday after the Packers wide receiver tweeted about the play. Adams had called out Davis for “head hunting” after the hit.

“I understand your frustration and I do apologize for the hit!” Davis tweeted on Monday morning. “In no way was I trying to hurt you. My first instinct was turn and make a block. In all sincerity I do apologize. I truly respect you as a player and I made a mistake!”

The Panthers’ 31–24 victory over the Packers improved Carolina’s record to 10–4. If Davis’s suspension is upheld, he would return to the team after the completion of their final regular season game.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Jerry Richardson Gives Up Control of Panthers

Written by John Breech at CBS Sports.com

The swift downfall of Panthers owner Jerry Richardson continued on Monday as the team announced that the 81-year-old will no longer be in charge of Carolina’s day-to-day operations.

It’s been a hectic 72 hours for the Panthers and that all started on Friday when the team announced that Richardson was being investigated for alleged workplace misconduct. Although the Panthers didn’t reveal what the specific allegations were against Richardson, a detailed report from Sports Illustrated on Sunday shed some light on what Richardson was facing.

In the story from SI, the magazine reported that several Panthers had complained about Richardson over a variety of things. Among them, Richardson allegedly inappropriately touched female employees and asked women whether or not he could shave their legs. He would also allegedly offer to give them foot rubs.

Richardson also allegedly used a racial slur against at least a former team scout who’s no longer with the Panthers. According to SI, Richardson’s actions forced the Panthers into financial settlements with at least four former employees, which prevent them from talking about the details of the allegations against the team’s owner.

Shortly after the Panthers beat the Packers 31-24 on Sunday, Richardson announced that he would be selling the team at the end of the season.

With Richardson no longer handling day-to-day operations, full control of the team will go to Chief Operating Officer Tina Becker.

“These have been some of the most difficult days of my 19 years with the Panthers, but I am lifted up by the strong resolve and the commitment our employees have shown to this organization,” Becker said in a statement. “Our team on the field is performing at a very high level, and I believe is bound for the Super Bowl. My immediate focus will be to ensure the corporate side of the organization performs at the same high level, while addressing the real concerns that have been raised in recent days.”

To continue reading this article, click here.

Cutler Confident In Dolphins Despite MNF Blowout

Written by Kevin Patra at NFL.com

The Miami Dolphins forced a punt with 54 seconds remaining in the first half. Trailing 10-7 at the time, Adam Gase’s team had the chance to at least go into halftime in a one-score game.

Instead, Jay Cutler tossed a disastrous interception on the first play, and Carolina scored a touchdown. The Panthers would score a TD on every second-half drive until kneeling out the game with a 45-21 blowout win.

Despite a third-straight primetime loss, and fourth embarrassing loss of the season, to drop to 4-5, the Dolphins are confident they can turn the season around.

“Adam said it really well in the locker room, that’s three weeks out of 16,” quarterback Jay Cutler said, via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. “There’s a lot of football left. The pieces are in that locker room. I truly believe that. I have been around a lot of good teams, there [are] a lot of good guys in there, a lot of talent. And there’s really good coaches. So we just have to get back to work. That’s the only thing we can do. We can’t fold up shop because there’s a lot of football left to play and anything can happen.”

Despite allowing 548 total yards, including 294 rushing yards, despite missing innumerable tackles, and despite leaving receivers uncovered all over the field, the Dolphins defense believes its problems are fixable.

“There is no way we should give up 350 yards with the players we have, let (alone) 550,” defensive end Andre Branch said. “We just have to go back to work, and it will be fixed for sure.

To continue reading the article, click here.

Panthers Trade Kelvin Benjamin to Bills For Picks

Written by Mike Rodak at ESPN.com

In a deal that was completed minutes before the NFL’s trade deadline Tuesday, the Carolina Panthers dealt top wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills for a third-round pick and a seventh-round pick in the 2018 draft.

The third-rounder is the Bills’ original selection, not the one the franchise acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles in a separate deal. The seventh-rounder was acquired in a July trade with the Los Angeles Chargers for quarterback Cardale Jones.

“You’re always looking to make a move to win today and to win tomorrow, and I think this answers both of those,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane said in a news conference Tuesday evening.

Panthers interim GM Marty Hurney told ESPN’s David Newton that the Bills reached out to Carolina and expressed interest in Benjamin. Beane and Hurney have a long-standing working relationship that began when both joined the Panthers in 1998 and continued through 2012, when Hurney was fired by Carolina and replaced by Beane as interim GM.

“Marty and I talk every so often,” Beane said Tuesday. “We spoke a little bit [Monday] and then this morning via text. But I really didn’t sense at practice [Tuesday afternoon] that anything was going to go down. And then we did circle back up around 2 [p.m.] and again around 3:25, and it got serious by 3:40, knowing we had 20 minutes to agree on the deal.”

The Panthers were willing to part with Benjamin because it eliminates some redundancy on the field with Benjamin, who is 6-foot-5, and Devin Funchess, who is 6-foot-4 with a similar skill set and now moves into Benjamin’s role as the No. 1 receiver. The Panthers also want to get faster receivers such as Russell Shepard, rookie Curtis Samuel and Kaelin Clay on the field more.

Benjamin provides the Bills with a big, deep target for quarterback Tyrod Taylor as they look to end a 17-year playoff drought and advance to the postseason for the first time since the 1999 season. At a surprising 5-2, the Bills entered Week 9 with a 61 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index.

To continue reading this article, click here.