AP source: Panthers agree to terms with XFL QB P.J. Walker


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A person familiar with the situation says the Panthers have agreed to terms on contracts with former XFL quarterback P.J. Walker of the Houston Roughnecks and former Raiders linebacker Tahir Whitehead.

The person spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the moves have not been announced by the team since the players have yet to pass physicals. The person says Walker agreed to a two-year contract and Whitehead will get a one-year deal.

Walker joins the Panthers on the first day that XFL players were allowed to sign with NFL teams.

Both Walker and Whitehead played college football at Temple under new Panthers coach Matt Rhule.

The 25-year-old Walker was one of the stars of the XFL and a leading MVP candidate, throwing for 1,338 yards with 15 touchdown passes and four interceptions while leading the Roughnecks to a 5-0 start before the league canceled its season because of the coronavirus outbreak.

While playing under Rhule at Temple, Walker threw for 10,668 yards in four seasons with 74 touchdowns and 44 interceptions before finishing in 2017. He has spent parts of the past three seasons on the Colts practice squad, but has never played a regular-season down in the NFL.

“Couldn’t be happier for @XFLRoughnecks PJ Walker,” Roughnecks director of pro personnel Randy Mueller said on Monday. “Love to see guys bet on themselves and be rewarded. Easy to root for good people.”

Walker joins a crowded quarterback room in Carolina, although Cam Newton is expected to be traded or released in the near future.

Teddy Bridgewater is expected to be Carolina’s starting quarterback after agreeing to a three-year, $63 million contract last week to replace Newton. Will Grier, a third-round draft pick in 2019, and Kyle Allen, who started 12 games last season for Carolina, are the other QBs on the roster.

Whitehead is a more proven player. He’s played 125 games with 87 starts and has 633 tackles and five interceptions. He has started 63 of a possible 64 games over the past four seasons with the Lions and Raiders. Last year Whitehead had 108 tackles for the Raiders.

He could help ease the loss of linebacker Luke Kuechly, who announced his retirement after last season.

Outside of the Bridgewater signing, the Panthers have been relatively quiet in free agency, adding mostly lower-priced free agents, while allowing top free agents starters such as defensive end Mario Addison, cornerback James Bradberry, defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe and guard Greg Van Roten to join other teams. Along with Kuechly’s retirement, the team also released tight end Greg Olsen, traded five-time Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner and made the decision to part ways with Newton, the league’s MVP in 2015.


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By STEVE REED AP Sports Writer

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