The Carolina Panthers have visited with a couple of highly rated running-back prospects they might consider drafting.
On Monday, they signed a free-agent back.
Jordan Todman might not have a high profile, but the Panthers view him as a versatile back who gives them another option at kick returner, after he held that role last season in Jacksonville.
Todman, San Diego’s sixth-round draft choice in 2011 who spent the past three seasons with the Jaguars, signed a one-year deal, the terms of which were not disclosed.
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Todman was a restricted free agent who became available when Jacksonville chose not to tender him. He was teammates in Jacksonville with Teddy Williams, the Panthers’ recently acquired special-teams ace who also was non-tendered by the Jaguars.
Todman is the first back Carolina has added since cutting franchise rushing leader DeAngelo Williams on March 10. His signing, however, does not necessarily preclude the Panthers from taking a running back in the draft.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said at the owners meetings last week that he still wants to employ a two-back system in the absence of Williams, who signed with Pittsburgh.
The Panthers recently met with Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Indiana’s Tevin Coleman, two of the more highly regarded running backs in the draft.
Todman averaged 5.8 yards per carry in limited action last year for the Jaguars, and averaged 25.6 yards on kickoff returns to tie for sixth in the league among players with at least 20 returns.
Only Devin Hester (45) had more returns than Todman (38).
“Jordan is a veteran running back who has had some success in this league,” Rivera said in a release. “We think he has some return skills and we are always looking to be good in that area. At running back, he brings versatility. He is stout and physical enough to run the ball up inside, but he’s got the quickness and speed to get outside to the corner.”
Todman, 5-10 and 198 pounds, likely will compete with Fozzy Whittaker for the kick-return role and for a spot in the backfield behind starter Jonathan Stewart.
Todman, 25, played in all 32 games for the Jaguars over the past two seasons, with three starts. He has 111 career carries for 450 yards and three touchdowns.
“Any time you get a chance to play football and do what you love, it’s a great opportunity,” Todman said. “I’m excited to come to a playoff team, a team with upside that wants to be great.”
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