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Carolina Panthers

The Panthers traded up into the first round to draft wide receiver Xavier Legette, and quarterback Bryce Young says he’s already showing first-round talent this offseason.

Young said that Legette, who is 6-foot-3 and ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the Combine, has a combination of size and speed that is hard to get accustomed to.

“That combination of size, speed, how explosive he is, the way he comes out of routes, it’s definitely something that I gotta get used to,’' Young said, via ESPN. “We’re working on getting that timing down, but I’m super excited.’'

The Panthers think Legette can be a big-play receiver in new head coach Dave Canales’ offense, and that he can be the No. 1 receiver for Young for years to come. Young’s rookie season was a disappointment, and now the Panthers need Legette both to show that first-round talent on the field, and to help Young develop into the franchise quarterback the Panthers need him to be.


On the “owners most likely to pack and leave if they don’t get what they want” scale, David Tepper would be at the very top.

That’s an important point for the powers-that-be to keep in mind as Charlotte City Council prepares to take up later this month Tepper’s request for $650 million in free money to upgrade the stadium where the Panthers play.

Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer, a noted Tepper agitator, makes the case for giving Tepper what he wants. The reasoning is simple. If Charlotte doesn’t, the Panthers will leave, along with the Charlotte FC MLS team he owns. And then Charlotte would try to get another NFL team to replace the Panthers, at a cost far in excess of the $650 million Tepper wants.

Public sentiment, as reflected by hardly reliable online commentary, is 85 percent (in Fowler’s estimation) against the proposal. Not giving Tepper the money, however, makes it more than 85 percent certain that he’ll go somewhere that will. (The best hope is that his hostile-takeover personality, which includes hostile drink throwing and marginally hostile hat removal, could be an impediment to getting taxpayer money elsewhere.)

Fowler’s request, and it’s a smart one, is that the council seek a longer commitment than 2039 from Tepper, in exchange for the money. That’s only 15 years away, and that’s when the bill will be even bigger to renovate, or possibly to replace, Tepper’s playground.

All of this is happening at a time when the mood seems to be smaller than ever to subsidize billionaire sports owners. For the NFL, the ever-exploding value of franchises will make it even harder to persuade the average person to feel good about the Dennis Moore approach to stadium financing.

Steal from the poor, and give to the rich.

The folks on Charlotte City Council need to think of it that way. And they shouldn’t get too twisted up by the possibility of Tepper leaving.

Really, where would he go? Which community would fork over billions to build him a new stadium?

The Chiefs currently are benefitting from a Missouri vs. Kansas-style border battle. Fortunately for Charlotte, Tepper has already obliterated the bridge to Rock Hill.


It appeared Stephon Gilmore and the Panthers were close to reuniting after the draft. Six weeks later, the cornerback remains a free agent.

Being patient right now,” Gilmore said during the red carpet of Tom Brady’s Patriots Hall of Fame ceremony, via Nick O’Malley of masslive.com. “I feel good. Year 13, been playing a long time. So, I’m just being patient and waiting for the right opportunity.”

Gilmore, 34, is one of the few remaining free agents from PFT’s top 100.

No team has yet offered a contract to Gilmore’s liking or he already would have signed. Given that, it now makes sense for him to wait until a team has an injury to a starting cornerback.

The five-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro and one time defensive player of the year has played for the Bills, Patriots, Panthers, Colts and Cowboys. He has 31 interceptions and 140 passes defensed in his career.

Gilmore started all 17 games for the Cowboys last season.


Diontae Johnson moved from Pittsburgh to Carolina this offseason in a trade that signaled that the Steelers weren’t interested in giving the wide receiver a contract extension.

Johnson’s first few months with the Panthers have left him ready to consider an extended stay with the NFC South club. Johnson said on Tuesday that “if they feel like they want to extend me, then I’m all for it.”

Johnson’s desire to sign a new deal is likely helped by the rising tide for receiver compensation that’s being driven by deals for players at the top of the market. Johnson is keeping an eye on that while trying not to change anything about his game as part of his push for a new deal.

“It’s crazy,” Johnson said, via Anthony Rizzuti of USAToday.com. “Everybody getting all these big contracts — it just motivates me to keep working. God gonna give it to me when he ready, so I just gotta keep stacking days and not really worry about . . . keep pressing. If I press, that’s gonna throw my game off and I’m doing stuff I don’t normally do out there trying to make plays. But just gotta stay relaxed, just keep being humble, make my plays.”

Johnson’s goal of a contract lines up with the Panthers’ goal of building continuity around quarterback Bryce Young, so the chances of an extension would seem to be good but it remains to be seen what kind of timeline everyone is operating on in Carolina.


Panthers first-round receiver Xavier Legette is not participating at minicamp due to a lingering hamstring injury.

Panthers coach David Canales told beat reporters Tuesday that he expects Legette to be ready by training camp.

Legette missed most of organized team activities with his injury, but Canales said the injury was not more serious than anticipated. The team instead is merely being deliberate in Legette’s return.

“It’s just any hamstring—so, like, again—we’re looking at the time really getting shorter and shorter to when we go to camp. So we just really can’t afford to say, ‘Well, it’s good enough,’” Canales said, via Anthony Rizzuti of USA Today. “I think if we’re playing a game this week, he’s practicing and we’re getting ready to go. But right now, this is not the time to test that. So I think being cautious on that side, looking toward training camp is the right thing to do.”

Legette had 71 catches for 1,255 yards and seven touchdowns for the University of South Carolina last season.


Panthers edge rusher DJ Johnson, who was carted off the field Tuesday, has a calf injury, Dave Canales told reporters.

Johnson will sit out the rest of the team’s mandatory minicamp, but he should be back in time for training camp.

That’s the best possible news after it appeared a more serious injury.

Johnson underwent an MRI after the injury.

Carolina traded up to 80th overall in 2023 to select the University of Oregon product. He played 231 defensive snaps in 13 games and made 16 tackles, no sacks and no quarterback hits.


San Antonio Brahmas coach Wade Phillips gave St. Louis Battlehawks receiver Hakeem Butler an endorsement during the teams’ UFL playoff game this weekend. Phillips said Butler should be in the NFL.

The Panthers are the first team to give Butler that chance.

Butler will work out for Carolina, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports.

Butler earned UFL offensive player of the year honors after making 45 receptions for 652 yards and five touchdowns this spring.

He entered the NFL as a fourth-round pick of the Cardinals in 2019 but missed his entire rookie season with a broken hand and never played a regular-season game for Arizona.

Butler’s only two regular-season NFL games both came with the Eagles, and he never caught a pass. He saw action on only one offensive snap and 29 on special teams.


For the second time this year, a team from Michigan had a double-digit lead on the road in a conference championship game and lost.

This time around, the Michigan Panthers saw an 18-3 first-half lead collapse into a 31-18 loss to the Stallions in Birmingham. Official attendance, via Mike Mitchell of SI.com, was 10,287.

Former NFL quarterback Matt Corral, who was picked by the Carolina Panthers in the third round of the 2022 draft, replaced likely UFL MVP Adrian Martinez with the score 18-12 and presided over the win.

It didn’t look like a good move at first. Corral’s second pass was interception, part of a third-quarter comedy of errors that saw the teams combine for six turnovers. Corral’s miscue was followed by a pick-six that knotted the score at 18. The Stallions then scored the final two touchdowns of the game.

Corral completed nine of 11 passes for 120 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. His performance, and the outcome, will raise questions about whether it will be Martinez or Corral next Sunday in St. Louis, where the Stallions will play either the Battlehawks or the San Antonio Brahmas.

The Stallions are now three-for-three in earning championship berths since the USFL returned in 2022. The Stallions won both titles of the reconstituted four-letter league. They’ll take a 10-1 record to St. Louis in eight days.


The Panthers are signing UFL receiver Daewood Davis, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports.

Davis earned All-UFL honors, catching 41 passes for 446 yards and five touchdowns on 70 targets in 10 games with the Memphis Showboats this spring.

He played for Oregon from 2017-20 and Western Kentucky in 2021-22 but went undrafted in 2023.

The Dolphins signed him as a college free agent.

During a preseason game against the Jaguars in August, he was taken to the hospital with head and neck injuries. The game was suspended after Davis’ injury.

The Dolphins waived him out of training camp.

Davis is the first UFL player to sign with an NFL team.


This year’s new Hall of Famers have chosen their presenters for the induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio.

Dwight Freeney has chosen Colts owner Jim Irsay, who will be a presenter for the third time, having previously presented Marvin Harrison in 2016 and Edgerrin James in 2020.

Randy Gradishar has chosen his former Broncos teammate Tom Jackson, who has been honored by the Hall of Fame himself as the winner of its Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award in 2015.

Devin Hester has chosen his mother, Juanita Brown.

Andre Johnson has chosen his former coach on the Texans, Gary Kubiak.

Steve McMichael has chosen Jarett Payton, a longtime family friend who currently works as a broadcaster for WGN in Chicago. This will be Payton’s second time as a Hall of Fame presenter, having previously served as the presenter for his father, Walter Payton, in 1993.

Julius Peppers has chosen his longtime friend and mentor Carl Carey.

Patrick Willis has chosen his sister, Ernicka Willis. She is the second sister of a Hall of Famer to serve as a presenter, following Elaine Anderson, who presented her brother Cliff Branch for his posthumous induction in 2022.