The Carolina Panthers announced this afternoon that they have agreed to terms with free agent cornerback Eli Apple.
Apple, who spent last season with the New Orleans Saints, initially looked like he was heading to Las Vegas. However, the fifth-year pro and the Raiders couldn’t come to terms on a contract.
Instead, he’ll stay in the NFC South. Apple played 25 games with the Saints over the last season-plus after being traded to New Orleans by the New York Giants in October 2018. He finished his Saints tenure with 58 tackles, 13 passes defensed, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Originally drafted 10th overall out of Ohio State by the Giants in 2016, Apple enjoyed a relatively strong rookie season in New York. He played in 14 games (11 starts), made 51 tackles and broke up seven passes while intercepting one.
However, his relationship with the organization soured during his second season in 2017. Apple was suspended and benched, playing in only 11 games. He regained his starting spot in 2018 but was traded after only five games.
We've agreed to terms with Eli Apple! pic.twitter.com/u4FmMgfvUJ
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) May 28, 2020
The signing of Apple continues what has been an offseason emphasis for Carolina: adding players on defense. The Panthers’ entire 2020 draft capital was spent on defensive players.
First-year head coach Matt Rhule is being entrusted to rebuild in Carolina. He’ll try to do so with a revamped defense and a new quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater.