NFL Nation: Darvin Adams

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.
The Carolina Panthers just sent out their official list of the undrafted rookie free agents they have signed. Here it is.
Word of various agreements between teams and undrafted free agents are starting to trickle out.

Keep in mind, none of these have been officially announced by teams. The news is coming from players, their agents and their colleges. It’s not unheard of for a player to agree with one team and end up signing with another. As soon as teams send out official lists of their signings, we’ll share them with you.

In the meantime, here’s what’s being reported.

Mike Triplett reports the Saints have agreed with Fresno State quarterback Ryan Colburn.

D. Orlando Ledbetter reports the Falcons are expected to add West Virginia running back Noel Devine and Boise State defensive end Ryan Winterswyk.

Triplett also reports the Saints have agreed with Texas receiver John Chiles, Walsh receiver Joe Morgan, Illinois receiver Jarred Fayson and Iowa linebacker Jeremiha Hunter.

Fordham safety Isa Abdul-Quddus said on his Twitter account that he has agreed to a deal with the Saints.

North Carolina defensive back Kendric Burney said via Twitter he’s signing with the Panthers.

Auburn receiver Darvin Adams and offensive lineman Ryan Pugh reportedly will join the Panthers. That should make former teammate Cam Newton happy.

The Saints reportedly will add Ohio State defensive tackle Dexter Larimore and safety DeAndre McDaniel.
Another in a series on what looms in the NFC North during the mad scramble to assemble teams when the lockout ends:

NFL front offices will balance an unprecedented number of tasks in the days and weeks after the lockout ends. Perhaps the most chaotic will be the pursuit of undrafted rookies who otherwise would have been signed immediately after the draft.

[+] EnlargeSam Shields
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesSam Shields intercepted a pair of passes in the Packers' win in the NFC Championship Game.
If the NFL expands training camp rosters beyond the traditional total of 80, some teams literally will need dozens of these players to give coaches enough bodies to run the kind of training camp they have planned. Their arrivals will coincide with other important tasks, from signing draft picks to acquiring veteran free agents.

As we noted in April, some of our teams got a head start on this process by trading back in the draft to collect late-round picks. The Minnesota Vikings grabbed six players during the final two rounds of the draft combined, while the Green Bay Packers drafted five. All teams keep a list of players who are on the fringe of the draft, and sometimes the guarantees due a seventh-round pick are cheaper than the results of bidding wars during the hectic free-agent period.

If you doubt the significance of this process, look no further than the Packers. Two rookies who signed last spring as undrafted free agents, linebacker Frank Zombo and nickelback Sam Shields, played prominent roles in the team's run to Super Bowl XLV.

Who will be the next Zombo or Shields? In May, Scouts Inc. ranked the top 40 players who weren't drafted Insider. You'll need an insider subscription to see the entire list, but I can give you a peek at the top 5:

  1. Rutgers safety Joe Lefeged
  2. North Carolina cornerback Kendric Burney
  3. Southern Arkansas defensive tackle Cedric Thornton
  4. Auburn receiver Darvin Adams
  5. Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel

If you're wondering if the Vikings might have targeted someone to replace pending free agent Ryan Longwell, Scouts Inc. lists UCLA's Kai Forbath as the top place-kicker available.
One of the first things teams will do after the lockout ends will be to sign undrafted free agents.

Those are the college players who were passed over in the April draft. Those guys are at a distinct disadvantage compared to other years because the lockout prevented them from having offseason time to impress the coaching staff. They’ll have to really stand out in training camp to have a shot at a roster spot.

You can bet that teams already have lists of guys they want to pursue and many teams told agents before the draft that they might be interested in their clients if they went undrafted.

Let’s go back to this Insider post from right after the draft in which Scouts Inc. listed the top 40 undrafted free agents. We can’t share the whole list here, but we’ll give you the top five.

In order, they are Rutgers safety Joe Lefeged, North Carolina cornerback Kendric Burney, Southern Arkansas defensive tackle Cedric Thornton, Auburn wide receiver Darvin Adams and Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel.

I could see any of those guys possibly landing in the NFC South. Lefeged might have a shot at a roster spot in Tampa Bay where there is uncertainty at safety with Tanard Jackson suspended through at least late September. Thornton’s a defensive tackle and Carolina and Tampa Bay could be in the market for depth at that position. Burney, Adams and McDaniel could be options for Carolina and Atlanta because the Panthers and the Falcons have shown a past tendency to sign guys from their own backyards.