CHARLOTTE – The Panthers have signed a familiar face, free agent running back Kenjon Barner, to a one-year contract.
Carolina selected Barner in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, but he was traded to the Eagles after his rookie season. He won a Super Bowl ring with Philadelphia last season, returning three kicks for 73 yards in the win over New England.
Barner provides depth at running back and on special teams with Fozzy Whittaker on injured reserve because of a knee injury.
"I'm excited to be back with the team that opened the door for me," Barner said. "Everything has come full circle. To have the opportunity to be back here, to be in this Carolina blue is a bit of redemption for me.
"After I was traded, people were like, 'Are you mad?' And I was like, 'Mad about what? Those people were great to me. What reason did I give for them to keep me?' Now for me to be back here, back with Coach (Ron) Rivera and Coach Skip (running backs coach Jim Skipper) – guys who really believed in me at a time when I didn't believe in myself – I'm thrilled about the opportunity."
Barner has been used primarily on special teams throughout his career, including his rookie season with the Panthers out of the University of Oregon. Carolina traded him to the Eagles prior to the 2014 season for a conditional seventh-round pick that the Panthers didn't end up receiving after Philadelphia waived Barner. The Eagles added Barner to their practice squad late that year. He didn't play in 2014 but played in 36 games for the Eagles over the past three seasons.
Barner has an 8.6-yard punt return average and 22.6-yard kickoff return average for his career, with 77 rushes for 317 yards and three touchdowns to go with 21 catches for 127 yards. Barner ran the ball six times for 7 yards and caught two passes for 7 yards and returned two kicks for 17 yards for the Panthers in 2013.
"Whatever they need it to be – special teams, at running back – whatever it is," Barner said, "I've always been a guy who has put the team first."