CHARLOTTE — The Panthers came out of the draft with a need for a return man, and brought in one of the best in the league Monday.
The team agreed to a one-year deal with wide receiver/returner Andre Roberts.
The 34-year-old Roberts was an All-Pro pick three times in the last four seasons, and led the league in kickoff return yards last year (1,010, with two teams). His 8,578 combined return yards (kickoff and punt) are the most of any player in the league since 2010.
He had a 101-yard touchdown return on a kickoff for the Chargers last year, evidence he's still able to make big plays.
He has career averages of 26.0 yards per kickoff return, and 8.7 yards per punt return.
The Panthers averaged just 22.1 yards per kickoff return last year, 17th in the league in that category.
The Panthers were looking for an upgrade in the return game during the draft, but weren't able to acquire one over the weekend. Roberts is an acquisition in the mold of veteran punter Johnny Hekker, the All-Decade pick from the 2010s who came in this offseason in free agency and added immediate credibility. New special teams coordinator Chris Tabor's a significant part of that as well.
Roberts grew up in Columbia, S.C., and played at The Citadel. He entered the league as a third-round pick of the Cardinals in 2010. He's also spent time with Washington, the Lions, Falcons, Jets, Bills, Texans, and Chargers.
A three-time Pro Bowler and South Carolina native, Roberts has played for the Chargers (2021), Texans (2021), Bills (2019-20), Jets (2018), Falcons (2017), Lions (2016), Redskins (2014-15) and Cardinals (2010-13).