MURFREESBORO – The annual Murfreesboro Chamber of Commerce Banquet was held here on Thursday, Apr. 11 with former US Ambassador James P. Cain as the featured keynote speaker.
Cain served as the ambassador to Denmark from July 2005 to January 2009. Before his diplomatic service began, Cain worked in several other capacities including a 20-year stint with international law firm Kilpatrick Stockton in the firm’s Raleigh office and as President and Chief Operating Officer of the NHL Carolina Hurricanes from 2000 to 2003. He received his undergraduate and law degree from Wake Forest University. After his work as an ambassador came to a close, Cain has focused on devoting his energy to economic development projects in North Carolina.
Cain is married to Helen Revelle Cain, a Murfreesboro native, and the couple has two daughters.
The former ambassador opened his speech by sharing a few humorous stories about his time in Denmark before getting to the heart of his message.
He talked about his efforts to share messages about the American spirit with the people of Denmark. Those messages focused on three different things: the importance of diversity and inclusion, the critical role of entrepreneurship and innovation, and the power of private philanthropy and corporate social responsibility.
In his efforts to promote those points, Cain started a sports outreach program to immigrants living in Denmark, and he also helped sponsor gala events to raise money for charity, something that was uncommon in the country at the time. He said those initiatives have continued even though he and his family left Denmark 10 years ago.
Who is the punter for the Carolina Panthers? The answer is Michael Palardy, an answer that should be obvious if you look at the handy roster that the team keeps posted on Panthers.com or if you bothered to read our 2018 special teams review this morning.
We felt the need to answer this very important question for two reasons: primarily because Google seems confused on the subject and secondarily because it is the offseason and when else are we going to talk about punters?
Palardy, for the record, has been punting for the Panthers since 2016. He took over for an injured Andy Lee (who does appear among the above suggestions) that season and then beat Lee out for the job in a 2017 training camp battle. He is under contract for the next three seasons following the contract extension he signed last year.
The suggested punters for the Panthers, per Google, include Lee, whom Palardy beat out for the job, Mike Scifres, who retired after not playing a snap for the Panthers, Jordan Gay, who similarly never played a regular season snap in a Panthers’ uniform, Brad Nortman, who is also no longer in the NFL, and Jason Baker, who retired in 2012 after seven seasons with the Panthers and 12 in the NFL. Palardy, once again, is none of those people. Palardy, to be clear, is still in the NFL and still under contract to provide punt related services to the Carolina Panthers in 2019, 2020, and 2021.
If you’d like to know more about Palardy you can dig into researching his statistics (he is a pretty average punter) here. You can also take a look at a breakdown of his contract (he is paid like a pretty average punter) here. If you want even more than that then I must direct you to this photo shoot with the rest of the Panthers special teamers in celebration of his contract extension. It really should tell you everything you need to know.
The Houston Texans free agency period has not been the most exciting but they’ve signed guys that could provide a valuable impact to the team. There haven’t truly been any household names the team has signed but sometimes it’s not about that, it’s all about finding the right players that fit with the team’s mantra.
Besides, who knows what kind of money Jadeveon Clowney‘s contract will command? I understand that they have to be cautious with their spending, whether or not they decide to move forward with his $17 million franchise tag or hopefully achieve some savings for 2019 if a long-term pact is reached.
But since free agency opened some two weeks ago the team has signed seven guys to the roster. They are: Tashaun Gipson, Bradley Roby, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, A.J. McCarron, Matt Kalil and Darren Fells.
All of these men wield a ton of potential — some more than others — and if the cards are played right, they will flourish in their role with the Houston Texans.
The Houston Texans have been taking visits by various players and one interesting visit to note was when they brought offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder in for evaluation.
The 6-foot-7, 300-pound Schraeder had been drawing interest from both the Houston Texans and the Minnesota Vikings so there was some slight competition for his services. However, Schraeder left Houston without a deal and the Houston Texans decided to ink Kalil to a one-year deal.
The Carolina Panthers added depth and experience to the wide receiver position.
The Panthers announced on Friday the signing of Chris Hogan to a one-year deal.
“It took a little longer than originally expected, but I’m super excited about coming to Carolina,” Hogan said via the team website. “This is an opportunity to prove myself again as a player.”
Hogan spent the past three seasons with the New England Patriots and now joins a crowded wide receiver position in Carolina.
D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel project as the starters, with Hogan, Torrey Smith, Jarius Wright, Rashad Ross, Mose Frazier, Andre Levrone and DeAndrew White also currently on the Panthers’ offseason roster.
With his arrival in Carolina, Hogan will also go from hauling in passes from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to catching balls from Panthers signal-caller Cam Newton.
“Tom was great. He demanded a lot and was an ultimate competitor,” Hogan said. “From what I hear and just from watching Cam, he’s the ultimate competitor as well. Really excited about the opportunity to play with him.”
Hogan originally entered the league in 2011 as an undrafted free agent out of Monmouth with the San Francisco 49ers. He had practice squad stints with the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins before spending four seasons with the Buffalo Bills (2012-15).
On his career, the 31-year-old Hogan has appeared in 88 games with 34 starts, totaling 194 catches for 2,610 yards and 18 touchdowns.
As the Panthers entered free agency, it was said that GM Marty Hurney would use “selective aggression” when choosing his targets – that strategy appears to be paying dividends as the Panthers have now made two relatively low-priced free agent signings in the past four days – perhaps not names that will make national news, but depth pieces that will ultimately make an impact on the field for the Panthers during the 2019 season, as the team announced Friday that it was signing veteran wide receiver Chris Hogan and today broke the news that they would be bringing back veteran defensive tackle Kyle Love.
Love, who led Carolina with three forced fumbles and two recoveries in 2018, tested the free agent market but ultimately will return to Carolina as he enters his tenth NFL season – he spent the first three years of his career in New England before finding his way to Carolina near the end of the 2014 season.
The former undrafted free agent has found a role in the Panthers defensive line rotation, at times outsnapping Vernon Butler and Dontari Poe, both of whom were first round picks, last season as he tallied 19 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Love has appeared in 33 consecutive games for the Panthers and saw 46.9% of the defensive snaps last season.
The Panthers have signed multiple players this year to one-year deals, ranging from Love and Hogan to pass rusher Bruce Irvin, five players from the now-defunct Alliance of American Football, backups Taylor Heinicke and Cameron Artis-Payne along with tackle Daryl Williams – it’s clear there are multiple players who will be asked to “prove it” in 2019 while the team maintains flexibility moving forward – and that includes Kyle Love.
The Panthers made no secret of their desire to bring back Love this offseason – both Ron Rivera and Marty Hurney talked about his value in the Panthers’ defensive front. A return of Eric Washington’s leadership – Washington, still the defensive coordinator, will oversee the front seven while Ron Rivera handles the defensive playcalling – is expected to improve the play of a defensive line unit that disappointed last season in terms of pressuring the quarterback.
The defensive tackle rotation of 2018, it appears, will be intact in 2019 as the Panthers reported Monday for voluntary workouts – Love included.
Exact terms of Love’s deal were not disclosed at this time.
The Carolina Panthers are coming off of a 2018 campaign in which they won just seven games and missed the playoffs, but their lack of success this past season comes with a caveat.
Remember: the Panthers got off to a 6-2 start and looked like a legitimate contender in the NFC before Cam Newton began having shoulder issues, resulting in Carolina limping to a 1-7 finish and Newton being shut down for the final two games of the season.
Of course, Newton’s bum shoulder was not the Panthers’ only problem, but it was surely a big one, and now that Newton is healthy, wide receiver Torrey Smith thinks that Carolina can contend heading into 2019:
If Smith can rediscover some of his old magic, that would provide the Panthers with a big lift, too.
The 30-year-old played in just 11 games this past season, logging career lows in receptions (17) and receiving yards (190).
Smith has been in decline for several years now, but there was a time when he was one of the better wide outs in the league, as he hauled in 65 receptions for 1,128 yards and four touchdowns while with the Baltimore Ravens back in 2013.
Since then, however, Smith has reached no more than 767 yards, and over the last three years, he has failed to log 500 yards in any one season.
For the second straight year, the 49ers have been active in free agency. Coming off a 4-12 season, entering the third year of the John Lynch-Kyle Shanahan six-year plan, and replete with about $67 million in cap space, the pieces were aligned for the 49ers to stay aggressive.
Five days into the new league year, the 2019 49ers already look a bit different than the 2018 version.
The 49ers have added six new players, including Dee Ford, Kwon Alexander, Tevin Coleman, Jason Verrett, David Mayo, and Jordan Matthews. They applied the franchise tag to Robbie Gould. They re-signed Mark Nzeocha for three more years, Mike Person for three years, Antone Exum Jr. for one year, and Jimmie Ward for one year. They restructured Malcolm Smith’s deal to keep him through the 2019 season. The team used its restricted free agent tender on Raheem Mostert, retaining him for the upcoming season. Pierre Garcon, Earl Mitchell, Garry Gilliam, and Cassius Marsh have all been released. Brock Coyle retired after five NFL seasons.
As of today, the 49ers’ free agency spending counts for about $53 million against their 2019 cap. They still have around $34 million remaining in cap space this year, the seventh-most in the NFL, according to Spotrac. So, while the 49ers were aggressive, they weren’t frivolous, with DeForest Buckner and George Kittle eyeing massive contracts in the coming offseasons.
Let’s grade the six signings so far this offseason.
Thanks to a compensatory pick stemming from the loss of guard Andrew Norwell to the Jaguars in free agency last year, the Panthers have a chance to land two impactful young players in the third round of the 2019 NFL draft.
Getting these two picks rights will be key in determining how general manager Marty Hurney’s critical draft class will be evaluated this year. Who might they pick? In a new four-round mock draft by Luke Easterling at Draft Wire, the Panthers start out by selecting Notre Dame wide receiver prospect Miles Boykin with the No. 77 overall pick in the draft.
If there’s one thing Carolina’s wide receiver room is missing right now, it’s size. Boykin brings it in abundance. He checked in at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds at the combine. His athletic testing was also noteworthy – he ran a 4.42 second 40-yard dash and posted a remarkable 43.5-inch vertical.
Boykin also checks all the boxes for a new X receiver for the Panthers to replace Devin Funchess. In 26 career college games, Boykin totaled 77 catches, 1,206 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.
Next up, the Panthers use their comp pick to reinvest in the offensive line. With the No. 100 overall selection, they take Oklahoma’s Ben Powers.
At 6-foot-4 and 307 pounds, Powers projects as a guard in the NFL. It would be fitting for him to replace Greg Van Roten, who took over Norwell’s spot at left guard last season. While Van Roten played every snap, he struggled in pass protection. Moving him to the bench and plugging in Powers would give another crucial shot of talent to a unit that still needs a lot more help even after adding Matt Paradis.
The two players alleged that league-wide collusion kept them out of the NFL. Reid eventually signed with the Carolina Panthers, but Kaepernick remains unsigned. After more than a year in court following the initial 2017 filing, the two sides reached an undisclosed settlement in February. Kaepernick has been out of the NFL since March 2017.
According to the Wall Street Journal report, which cited people briefed on the deal, it’s not clear how the money will be split and how much the players will net after legal fees. To put Kaepernick’s split of the $10 million in perspective, his base salary in 2016 alone was nearly $12 million.
Kaepernick has not been with an NFL team since severing his contract with the 49ers in March 2017. Reid, who played for the 49ers from 2013 to 2017, signed with the Panthers before the team’s fourth game of the 2018 season and received a three-year deal in February worth more than $22 million.
Since Kaepernick had been out for two seasons, observers assumed his salary for those two years would have been a total of $30 million, given the marketplace for QBs.
Instead, Kaepernick appears to have been awarded significantly less. Legal experts had said the case would be difficult for Kaepernick to win, which may have contributed to him accepting a lesser settlement.
In the end, it looks like the NFL paid Kaepernick and Reid a few million each, just to be quiet for the league’s poor actions.
CHARLOTTE – Unrestricted free agent Matt Paradis, the Broncos’ starting center the past four seasons, has signed a three-year contract with the Panthers.
“Matt gives us an established starter at a critical position on the offensive line,” general manager Marty Hurney said. “He’s a smart, tough player with good feet, good instincts and a good feel for the position.”
A sixth-round draft out of Boise State in 2014, Paradis spent his rookie year on Denver’s practice squad but had been the Broncos’ starter when healthy ever since. He started every game from the start of the 2015 season – which ended with the Broncos beating the Panthers in Super Bowl 50 – until he suffered a broken fibula midway through last season.
Ryan Kalil, who has been the Panthers’ starting center since 2008, retired following the 2018 season with five Pro Bowl appearances to his credit.
Next up is Paradis, a 6-foot-3, 300-pounder who played eight-man football growing up in Idaho and evolved from a walk-on defensive lineman at Boise State into a two-time all-conference center. With the Broncos, he started 57 consecutive games and played every offensive snap from 2015 through his injury last season, though he still finished 2018 as the NFL’s second-rated center according to Pro Football Focus.