Carolina Panthers

Free agent TE Ed Dickson wants to return to Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers put one tight end in the Pro Bowl this season.

Ed Dickson, who backed up Greg Olsen this season, thinks they can get two in the game next year. But first there is the business of Dickson returning to the team.

Dickson, an unrestricted free agent, said he spoke with Panthers coach Ron Rivera this week and hopes he can re-sign with Carolina.

“I want to be back with the team. I feel like we have some unfinished business. We can do something special. I want to experience that Super Bowl win with the Carolina Panthers,” Dickson said Friday as he made his way through the Super Bowl media center. “Hopefully, we can work out a deal and get me back over there.”

Dickson signed a one-year deal worth the veteran minimum $795,000 last year to serve as a receiving complement to Olsen. But when Richie Brockel and Mike Tolbert were injured, Dickson filled in at fullback and spent about half the season doing more blocking than catching.

The former Baltimore tight end finished with 10 catches for 110 yards – both career lows – while Olsen established career highs with 84 catches for 1,008 yards and went to his first Pro Bowl.

But Dickson finished the season on an upswing. He caught his only touchdown in the division-clinching win at Atlanta, and he had three receptions for 67 yards in the two playoff games.

Dickson said he’s looking for a multiyear deal and has spoken with offensive coordinator Mike Shula about expanding his role if Dickson is back in Charlotte.

“When you’re building something, you want to finish it. You want to see it all the way through,” he said.

Dickson still thinks he and Olsen can be a potent tight end tandem.

“We’re going to be 1-A, 1-B, and do our thing,” he said. “Why not two tight ends in the Pro Bowl?”

Fallen brother: Panthers cornerback Bené Benwikere is bummed Seahawks rookie wideout Paul Richardson won’t play in Sunday’s Super Bowl. Richardson, a childhood friend of Benwikere’s in suburban Los Angeles, tore a knee ligament in the playoff win against Carolina during a play Benwikere was involved in.

The two were running stride-for-stride and going for a deep ball from Russell Wilson that went through Benwikere’s hands. Richardson went to the turf and immediately grabbed his left knee. He tore the ACL in the same knee while at Colorado in 2012.

“We were both going for the ball, and I don’t know what happened,” Benwikere said during a visit to the media center. “I don’t know if he hit the turf. He doesn’t really know, either.”

Benwikere has been checking in via text messages with Richardson, who underwent surgery Jan. 27, according to Benwikere.

“That’s been like my brother. We were playing basketball together when were like 5 years old. So I’ve known him my life, pretty much,” Benwikere said. “I know he’ll be OK.”

Gaffney in line for ring: The Panthers’ six-man draft class from 2014 produced four players who started as rookies and a fifth who could win a Super Bowl ring.

Running back Tyler Gaffney, the Panthers’ sixth-round pick, was claimed by New England in July when Carolina tried to sneak him through waivers. With injuries to several backs during training camp – including Gaffney – general manager Dave Gettleman said he needed a roster spot to sign Fozzy Whittaker.

Gaffney, who sustained a knee injury on the first play of the Panthers’ FanFest, a preseason practice session spent the season on injured reserve. But he has impressed the Patriots with his work habits and will get a ring if they beat Seattle on Sunday.

“He comes in, he works on his own, gets his stuff done, which I like because it shows he’s willing and committed to get it done,” Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears said. “He’s studying. Occasionally he’ll pop in and ask a question about how we’re calling the plays.”