NFC South: Will Blackwell

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.

NFC South links: Panthers ink Kuechly

May, 11, 2012
Atlanta Falcons

Did the Falcons do enough in the draft to help protect quarterback Matt Ryan?'s Marc Sessler explores.

Will Peter Konz break the Falcons' starting lineup? He'll begin to make his case today, as the Falcons begin their three-day rookie minicamp. Konz, five other draft picks, 23 undrafted free agents, six veterans and 10 players on tryouts will participate.

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have agreed to a four-year, $12.58 million guaranteed deal with first-round pick Luke Kuechly. The team has now signed all seven of its draft picks to four-year deals.

Former LSU lineman Will Blackwell, who signed with the Panthers as an undrafted free agent, postponed his wedding to July since it conflicted with this weekend's rookie minicamp, reports the Charlotte Observer's Joseph Person. His spouse-to-be was understanding, but with one caveat: "I told him he better block like he’s never blocked before,” said Laura Cummings, Blackwell's fiancee.

New Orleans Saints

Saints fifth-round pick Corey White doesn't lack for confidence, writes the Times-Picayune's Nakia Hogan. "It's going to be fun picking off some balls from Drew Brees," said the cornerback after he was drafted by the Saints. "It is going to be real fun."

No news is bad news? According to a league source, Brees and the Saints still have not resumed negotiations -- and talks have been practically non-existent for more than a month, writes the Times-Picayune's Mike Triplett.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs have waived former LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson.

Defensive end Da'Quan Bowers tore his right Achilles tendon, which might end his season. But Bowers isn't buying that prognosis, writing via Twitter: "2013?? Get real. I'm playing THIS year, 2012."
The Carolina Panthers just announced they have agreed to terms with 12 undrafted rookie free agents.

Here’s the list: