PHOENIX The Panthers continue to fortify their secondary, agreeing to terms Wednesday with cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and former Oakland safety Mike Mitchell.
Munnerlyn said he agreed to a 1-year deal to return to the Panthers. It's an incentive-laden contract that could be worth more than $1 million, with about $500,000 guaranteed, according to a league source.
Munnerlyn also had an offer from Chicago, which was looking for a replacement for nickelback D.J. Moore after the Panthers signed him this week.
Munnerlyn wasn't sure he'd be back with Carolina after the Panthers acquired Moore and veteran corner Drayton Florence.
I thought it was over when they signed D.J. I said, 'Well, they got a nickel,' Munnerlyn said. But I guess I'm still in their plans, so that's exciting.
Munnerlyn turned down a three-year offer from the Panthers last week, believing he would be better off with a shorter deal in what has been a soft market for corners.
Munnerlyn played nickel the past two seasons. He said he'd be happy staying at nickel against slot receivers, or moving outside if that's where he's needed.
I just want to play football. I just want to go out and have a great year, said Munnerlyn, a seventh-round pick from South Carolina in 2009.
The organization's been great to me. I went to college an hour away. I love the area. Great coaches, and I've got the system down, he added. I didn't want to leave this system. I feel like my talent can really show in the system.
Munnerlyn has five career interceptions in 34 starts, and tied a team record by returning two interceptions for touchdowns last season.
In Mitchell, the Panthers are bringing in a safety who was a backup for four seasons with the Raiders. Mitchell, who received a 1-year deal, will compete with Haruki Nakamura and D.J. Campbell at strong safety.
Whoever's there, I'm ready to compete against, Mitchell said. Really, the opportunity was just too good. They said the best man was going to play.
Mitchell, 25, started nine games in Oakland, where he backed up Tyvon Branch. Mitchell, who also had an offer from Cincinnati, has 3.5 sacks and two interceptions in 60 career games.
Nakamura signed with the Panthers last offseason after backing up Ed Reed in Baltimore. Nakamura lost his starting job after giving up a couple of crucial big plays, and took a pay cut this winter.
Mitchell, 6-1 and 216 pounds, said he's a physical and versatile safety.
I can blitz. I can cover the tight end man-to-man and I've shown the ability to be rangy in the backfield, he said. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Mitchell is a unique player who has shown the potential to be an effective starter.
He's a young football player who hasn't played a lot of football, Rivera said. But what you see says, he's a guy we want to find out more about and give him an opportunity to compete.
Campbell, last year's 7th-round pick, stated the final four games last season after injuries to Nakamura and Sherrod Martin. Charles Godfrey moved from strong safety to free safety at the time, and Rivera indicated Wednesday the move would be permanent.
GINN GETS OFFER: Rivera did not hide his excitement about the prospect of acquiring receiver/returner Ted Ginn, a free agent who visited the Panthers this week and left with a contract offer.
Ginn, who played with San Francisco last season, also reportedly has an offer from Cincinnati.
The interesting thing about Ted is he gives us some depth at wide receiver who can challenge for playing time opportunity, Rivera said. But also he's got special teams value, which is big.
Ginn, 27, a first-round pick out of Ohio State in 2007, has six career touchdown returns three on punt returns and three on kickoffs.
He's an explosive guy coming off the line of scrimmage, too, Rivera said. So there's some huge pluses for us as far as hoping to be able to bring a guy like that into the fold.
The Panthers used Armanti Edwards, Joe Adams and Armond Smith as their kick returners last season after Kealoha Pilares went down with a season-ending shoulder injury in November.
Adams, a fourth-round pick last year, lost his spot as the punt returner after he fumbled twice in a Week 3 loss to the Giants.
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