NFC South: Rico Wallace

Olindo Mare, who received a huge contract from the Carolina Panthers last year, won’t be handling the kickoff duties for the team this year.

The Panthers announced Monday that Mare has been released. Presumably, that means former Canadian League player Justin Medlock has won what was a competition for Carolina’s kicking job throughout the preseason.

Mare’s signing last year caused controversy because the Panthers released John Kasay, the final remaining player from their 1995 expansion team, to make room for Mare. The thinking was that Mare was as accurate as Kasay and could also handle kickoff duties. But Mare had a disappointing 2011 season and missed some crucial field-goal attempts. The Panthers brought Medlock in as competition and decided to let Mare go.

Although the Panthers gave Mare a four-year, $12 million contract last year, the salary-cap implications of his release are minimal. Mare was scheduled to count $3.2 million against this year’s salary cap. By releasing him, the Panthers still will be responsible for $3.1 million.

The kicker job isn’t the only area where the Panthers are going in a younger direction. They also released veteran Nick Harris. That means the Panthers are ready to go with rookie Brad Nortman as their punter. The Panthers drafted Nortman in the sixth round. They brought in Harris to compete with him and Nortman won the job.

As Carolina trimmed its roster to 75 players, there were several other moves of note.

Receiver David Gettis, who missed last season with a knee injury, has been placed on the physically unable to perform list. Gettis, who had been considered a candidate to start, wasn’t able to get healthy enough during the preseason. By going on PUP, Gettis now can be activated after six games. The Panthers also placed cornerback Brandon Hogan on the reserve/injured list. Hogan had been considered a candidate for significant playing time, but he also was slow in recovering from a knee issue. In the next five days, it will be decided if Hogan will take an injury settlement, be placed on injured reserve for the entire season or be released.

The Panthers also waived receiver Darvin Adams, guard Roger Allen, receiver Michael Avila, receiver Brenton Bersin, guard Will Blackwell, defensive end Eric Norwood, running back Lyndon Rowells, tight end Greg Smith, running back Josh Vaughan and receiver Rico Wallace.
If I had to pick one undrafted rookie to make an NFC South roster right now, it would be Tampa Bay offensive lineman Desmond Wynn.

That’s because the Bucs obviously thought very highly of Wynn when they signed him. I just got a look at the contract details for all the NFC South undrafted rookie free agents and Wynn’s $15,000 signing bonus was easily the highest. That might have something to do with the fact Wynn played for coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers.

A lot of undrafted rookies got a signing bonus of $1,000 or $2,000 and a fair amount got no signing bonus at all. But, as he’s been known to do at times in the past, Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik handed out several signing bonuses that were well above the league average. Offensive lineman Bradley Sowell got $10,000, offensive lineman Mike VanDerMeulen got $8,000, cornerback Leonard Johnson got $7,500, safety Tramain Thomas got $7,000 and fullback Cody Johnson got $5,000.

Let’s take a look at the rest of the division and see which other undrafted rookies got at least $5,000 to sign.

The Falcons gave out only one signing bonus of $5,000 and that went to defensive end Louis Nzegwu.

The Saints gave running back Travaris Cadet, offensive lineman Brian Folkerts, offensive lineman Aderious Simmons and safety Johnny Thomas each a $5,000 signing bonus.

The Panthers gave receivers Jared Green and Rico Wallace each $7,500. Defensive tackle Nate Chandler got $6,000. Offensive linemen Will Blackwell and Matt Reynolds each signed for $5,000.

Around the NFC South

May, 1, 2012
5/01/12
4:19
PM ET
Let’s take a run through the afternoon headlines from around the NFC South.

Here’s an off-beat story. Before the Louisiana House passed a law to continue a tax break for the New Orleans Hornets, one lawmaker proposed an amendment that would have required the Saints to agree to a five-year contract with quarterback Drew Brees. Tom Benson owns both the Saints and the Hornets. The amendment didn’t pass, but I like the lawmaker’s creativity.

New Orleans rookie receiver Nick Toon will wear the same jersey number his father wore in the NFL. The younger Toon wore No. 87 at Wisconsin. But he’s switching to the No. 88 that Al Toon wore while playing for the New York Jets.

Undrafted wide receiver Rico Wallace grew up as a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He could have a chance to face them twice a year if he can make the roster after signing with the Carolina Panthers.

The Falcons have added another name to their list of undrafted rookies. They added California receiver Michael Calvin, who has great speed, but started only 10 college games and had only one career catch for a touchdown.

While pointing out that it’s too early to declare him the next Darren Sproles or Warrick Dunn, Mark Cook writes that Tampa Bay rookie running back Michael Smith has some similarities to those two. He’s small, but he’s got great quickness. If Smith is even a little like Sproles or Dunn, he’ll have a chance to make an impact with the Bucs.
The Carolina Panthers just announced they have agreed to terms with 12 undrafted rookie free agents.

Here’s the list:

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