Carolina Panthers

Panthers finalize deals with Manuel, Wesley

CHARLOTTE -- The Carolina Panthers finally got themselves a high-dollar safety. They just didn't spend their own big money for him.

The Panthers finalized their deal Monday for safety Marquand Manuel, who was released by Green Bay just over a year after he had signed a five-year, $10 million deal with the Packers.

The Panthers got him for one year near the veteran minimum of $595,000, which is more in line with what they usually spend on safeties.

For their money, they might have found a guy who could start for them sooner rather than later.

Manuel started all 16 games last season, but lost his job to Atari Bigby this year and was released Saturday. The Panthers moved quickly, thinking he'd provide an immediate upgrade to the middle of their secondary.

"Hopefully quickly," general manager Marty Hurney said when asked how long it would take the 28-year-old Manuel to get caught up. "He's a veteran guy, he's a smart guy, and we think he's going to be a very good safety for us."

Manuel had a career-high 103 tackles last season, but gave up some deep balls and fell out of favor with the Packers' braintrust. Their buyer's remorse was almost immediate, though Seattle had made a strong bid to retain him in 2006.

The Panthers also finished a one-year deal for cornerback Dante Wesley, who'll add some heft to their special teams, which struggled in the preseason.

To make room for them on the roster, the Panthers released cornerback Curtis Deloatch and wide receiver Chris Horn.

The moves leave them with five safeties -- they need the numbers since they lack top-end talent -- four corners and five wide receivers.

• PRACTICE SQUAD: The Panthers named seven of the eight players they'll sign to the practice squad.

Five of them were guys they took to training camp: Safety C.J. Wilson (this year's seventh-round pick), defensive tackle Gary Gibson, fullback Billy Latsko, tight end Chad Upshaw and offensive lineman Rueben Riley.

They also signed a pair of receivers who were in other camps, wide receivers Jason Carter and Chris Hannon.

Carter, from Texas A&M, played in one game for Minnesota last year, while Hannon (University of Tennessee) was on the Kansas City practice squad last year.

• BUTLER CLAIMED: Tackle Rashad Butler, the Panthers' third-round pick last year who was cut Sunday, was claimed by the Houston Texans on Monday.

The Panthers loved his athleticism and upside, but they cut him in favor of former Atlanta backup Frank Omiyale.

Omiyale's a bigger player (310 pounds to Butler's 293), which would counter the biggest criticism of Butler, that he was unable to hold up in the run game.

Butler's the third Panthers cut to get claimed, following wide receiver Taye Biddle (Tampa Bay) and guard D'Anthony Batiste (Atlanta).

Guard Will Montgomery, also cut Sunday, went through waivers unclaimed.

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