Stephen Hill lands with Panthers
The New York Jets, who took Hill in the 2012 draft, cut the former wide receiver out of Georgia Tech on Saturday. Because of new practice squad rules introduced by the NFL and NFLPA on Aug. 19, Hill was eligible for the squad despite playing in 23 games the past two seasons.
According to one of Hill's agents, Jared Fox, at least two other teams expressed a strong interest in signing the 6-foot-4, 215-pound player to their practice squad.
Having the opportunity to work with Carolina wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl, who played 17 years in the league, factored into the decision.
"Ricky is a tremendous coach and a tremendous technician and has a lot of convictions about what he does,'' Fox told ESPN.com. "If he takes an interest in working with Stephen, that would be a really great benefit.''
Although he started 19 games for the Jets, Hill never materialized as a top receiving threat. In two years, he had 45 catches for 594 yards and four touchdowns.
Hill's other agent, Alan Herman, told ESPN.com's Rich Cimini after the Jets made the cut he was disappointed in Jets coach Rex Ryan "because I don't think he publicly supported Stephen Hill like he should have.''
Herman said Hill's development was hampered by the instability at quarterback between Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Geno Smith. Fox called the Panthers, who drafted Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin in the first round of the May draft and replaced their top four receivers from last season, a good fit for Hill.
The Panthers cut linebacker D.J. Smith to make room for Hill.
"Great coaching staff, great front office, no punches to be pulled,'' Fox said. "They want to develop him and give him a chance to prove himself. That's all he was looking for.''