The Panthers have reached a deal with wide receiver Rashad Ross, who led the recently suspended Alliance of American Football with seven receiving touchdowns for the Arizona Hotshots, ESPN.com reported, citing an unidentified source.
Ross was second in the AAF with 583 receiving yards before the league abruptly suspended operations this week with two weeks to go in its inaugural regular season.
The upstart league on Thursday “authorized” players to sign with NFL teams.
Ross, 29, reportedly will become the second AAF player to sign with an NFL team. The Chiefs on Thursday signed cornerback Keith Reaser, according to multiple reports.
Undrafted out of Arizona State in 2013, Ross has appeared in 22 NFL games with the Bears and Redskins, mostly as a kick returner. From 2014-16, he caught eight passes for 184 yards and a touchdown and scored one TD on a kick return for the Redskins in 2015.
The Panthers, who were 7-9 in 2018, aren’t particularly deep at wide receiver with their current roster, especially with Devin Funchess’ departure to the Colts via free agency.
DJ Moore and Torrey Smith, who both averaged less than 50 receiving yards per game in 2018 and combined to score only seven touchdowns, are listed as the starters with Jarius Wright and Curtis Samuel as their backups.
Running back Christian McCaffrey was Carolina’s leading receiver last season with 107 catches for 867 yards and six TDs. His 107 catches was almost double Moore’s total (55) for most among wide receivers and tight ends.
Quarterback Cam Newton, who is coming off shoulder surgery, has leaned heavily on his tight ends, especially Greg Olsen, who has struggled with injuries in recent seasons.
Moore is listed on the team’s unofficial depth chart as the kick returner and Samuel is listed as the punt returner.