Panthers add free agent RB Sanders, TE Hurst to offense

CHARLOTTE — The Carolina Panthers added two significant offensive weapons to help out their incoming rookie quarterback.

The Panthers announced Wednesday they agreed to terms with former Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders and former Cincinnati Bengals tight end Hayden Hurst, both unrestricted free agents.

The Panthers plan to select a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft after trading away four draft picks and wide receiver D.J. Moore to the Chicago Bears to move up eight spots. They’ve also added quarterback Andy Dalton as a backup QB.

Sanders ran for 1,126 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, helping the Eagles reach the Super Bowl. He has run for 3,708 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns in his first four seasons in the league, all with Philadelphia.

He also has the ability to be a valuable receiver, catching 50 passes for 509 yards and three touchdowns his rookie season.

A former second-round draft pick, Sanders will be reunited with Duce Staley, the Panthers’ recently hired running backs coach who previously worked with him in Philadelphia.

The decision to add Sanders could mean the team is ready to move on free agent running back D’Onta Foreman, who played well after Christian McCaffrey was traded to San Francisco.

The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Hurst was a first-round draft pick in 2018 who spent last season with the Bengals and caught 52 passes for 414 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught 13 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown in three postseason games with Cincinnati.

Before Cincinnati, the 29-year-old Hurst spent two seasons apiece in Baltimore and Atlanta. His best season came in 2020 when he caught 56 passes for 571 yards and six touchdowns for the Falcons.

Tight end has been a major area of weakness for the Panthers since Greg Olsen retired in 2020.

The leading tight end last season was Ian Thomas, who caught 21 passes for 197 yards and no touchdowns. Reserve tight end Tommy Tremble had 19 catches for 174 yards and three TDs.

Both Thomas and Tremble are under contract this season.

The Panthers are still in the market for a wide receiver following Moore’s departure, but that position is fairly thin this season. The team could address that need with the 39th overall pick in the draft.

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