CHARLOTTE -- The Carolina Panthers signed a pair of draft picks Thursday, their first of the offseason.
The Panthers finalized four-year deals with sixth-rounder Nick Hayden and seventh-rounder Mackenzy Bernardeau, according to their agents.
The deals are the standard for rookies, with minimum base salaries of $295,000, $385,000, $470,000 and $555,000. Hayden will get a signing bonus of just over $100,000, while Bernardeau's is $37,000.
Of the pair, Wisconsin's Hayden has the chance to play sooner. He made a good impression on coaches early, and the comparisons to former defensive tackle Jordan Carstens are no accident. He's strong, plays with effort and is good against the run. Bernardeau is more of a developmental player. He was their final of three seventh-rounders, from Division II Bentley College in Massachusetts.
To make room for the signed picks on the roster, the Panthers released a pair of players, quarterback Taylor Tharp and punter Dan Zeidman.
The Panthers still have four quarterbacks to take to camp, with former Jacksonville practice squader Lester Ricard hanging around as the fourth behind Jake Delhomme, Matt Moore and Brett Basanez.
Thursday's moves keep the active roster at 80, since draft picks don't count until they sign. They'll have to cut seven more players when the remaining picks ink their deals.
The Panthers will get to carry an extra body into camp, as they've been assigned an international practice squad player, English linebacker Shaun Smith. He played two years in the now-defunct NFL Europe.