The Carolina Panthers have agreed to terms with veteran cornerback Eli Apple, the team announced late Thursday afternoon. Apple, who had reportedly agreed to terms with the Raiders back in March before the deal fell through, will play for his third team in as many seasons. The 10th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Apple, a boundary cornerback, started his career with the Giants before being traded to the Saints midway through the 2018 season. Apple has logged 48 career regular-season starts in 55 games. He has 233 career tackles, three interceptions, 33 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.
Last season, his only full season with the Saints, Apple tallied 53 tackles along with one forced fumble and four passes defensed in 15 games. Apple will join a Panthers team that spent all seven of their 2020 draft picks on the defensive side of the ball. Carolina’s defensive-only draft included the selections of cornerbacks Tony Pride Jr. in the fourth round and Stanley Thomas-Oliver III in the seventh round.
The Panthers also made a significant change to their offense this past offseason when they released quarterback Cam Newton while signing Teddy Bridgewater, who went 5-0 in relief of injured Saints quarterback Drew Brees during the 2019 season.
Carolina, who started 5-2 last season before stumbling to a 7-9 finish, is entering their first season under first-time NFL head coach Matt Rhule, who lead Baylor to an 11-3 record last season.