The Panthers were not expected to be big players in the early days of free agency, but when the opportunity arises to sign a 29-year old center who could perhaps fill the large shoes of former cornerstone Ryan Kalil, you jump on it – as the Panthers did as they’ve agreed to a deal with former Denver Broncos center Matt Paradis – reported first by Ian Rapoport, the contract is expected to be worth $27.03m over three years.
Before breaking his leg in Week 9 and being placed on injured reserve, Paradis was anchoring one of the best run-blocking offensive lines in the league; the games missed at the end of the season were the first since he opened the 2015 season as starting center for the Broncos. Paradis said on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football this morning that he is “ahead of schedule” in his recovery from that fibula fracture.
He also made it clear what he was looking for in a team.
“I’m trying to win,” said the 6-3, 300 pound former sixth-round pick. “I got a taste of winning a Super Bowl in the past and my whole life I’ve been a part of winning teams – I don’t like losing, so I need to be a part of a winning team.”
Paradis will have to pass a physical on Thursday before the signing becomes official – the Panthers had an issue with that last season when cornerback Bashaud Breeland and the team had agreed to a deal before Breeland failed his physical and negated the agreement; but Paradis said that he expects to be fully cleared by June.
“It’s been a long process, it was a bad break,” said Paradis. “But we’re making great progress – the doctors are excited [and] I’m excited.”
Paradis would fill a large hole in the center of the line and has the opportunity to be a veteran leader in a locker room that will be losing veterans like Kalil, Thomas Davis and Mike Adams.
“You are looking for a center to come in and take over. I think we’ve got somebody there already in [Tyler] Larsen, who has played for us and done that very well,” Ron Rivera said last month about finding someone to replace Kalil in the locker room. “But we are also looking for a guy who will step up and be a leader in that room. And not just in the position room, but on the team as a whole. So you are looking for a guy with leadership qualities.”