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Carolina Panthers Notebook

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Hakeem Nicks signs with Colts, not Carolina Panthers

Take another receiver off the Panthers’ board.

A day after cutting Steve Smith and losing Ted Ginn Jr. to Arizona in free agency, the Panthers saw former New York Giants wideout Hakeem Nicks – a Charlotte prep standout and potential replacement for Smith – sign with Indianapolis on Friday.

Nicks signed a one-year deal worth $3.5 million, with incentives that could take it to $5.5 million, according to reports.

Nicks, 26, who played at Independence High and North Carolina, had mentioned the Panthers as one of three teams he wanted to play for, along with the Colts and San Diego.

But the Panthers never made an offer to Nicks, who was in New York when Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman was in the Giants’ front office.

Nicks caught 76 passes for 1,192 yards in 2011 when the Giants won the Super Bowl. But he was bothered by foot and knee injuries in 2012, and last season failed to catch a touchdown pass.

After missing on Ginn, Gettleman has begun negotiating with Brandon LaFell, according to two league sources.

LaFell, Carolina’s third-round pick in 2010, has averaged 42 receptions for 596 yards in his four seasons in Charlotte. LaFell visited New England this week, and reportedly has drawn interest from Denver, as well.

Panthers interested in Clark? The Panthers could be swapping safeties with Pittsburgh.

After losing free safety Mike Mitchell to the Steelers, the Panthers have had preliminary talks with former Steelers safety Ryan Clark, according to a league source.

Clark, who turns 35 in October, is coming off a 104-tackle season. He was selected to the Pro Bowl after the 2011 and 2012 seasons, when the Steelers had the league’s No. 1 defense overall and versus the pass.

Clark has started at least 14 games each of the past six seasons. He has 15 career interceptions.

The Panthers brought New Orleans free-agent safety Roman Harper in for a visit this week, although he left without a contract.

Tight end signed: Fans have been clamoring for the Panthers to sign a free agent, although this was not what they had in mind.

Mike McNeill, a backup tight end in St. Louis, signed a two-year deal with the Panthers on Friday. McNeill, 26, spent parts of the past three seasons with the Rams, catching five passes for 36 yards in 28 games. He made one start.

McNeill’s signing could signal the end of blocking tight end Ben Hartsock’s career in Carolina. The 33-year-old Hartsock is an unrestricted free agent.

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