Continuing a recent trend of bolstering their special teams, the Panthers signed free agent safety Aaron Francisco on Monday. In five NFL seasons with Arizona and Indianapolis, Francisco, 26, has played in 63 games with 11 starts and has recorded 66 special teams tackles to go along with 109 tackles, two interceptions, seven passes defensed and one forced fumble on defense.
Francisco (6-foot-2, 207 pounds) played in 10 games with two starts for the Colts in 2009. He appeared primarily on special teams and posted seven tackles in addition to notching nine tackles defensively. Francisco also saw action in all three postseason games, including Super Bowl XLIV where he made two special teams tackles. He became a free agent when Indianapolis did not tender him a qualifying offer, which would have made him a restricted free agent.
Selected as a special teams captain for the Cardinals in 2007 and 2008, Francisco finished third on the team with 18 special teams tackles in 2008 after leading the team with 23 special teams tackles in 2006 and being named a Pro Bowl alternate. Signed by Arizona as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2005, he spent the first five games on the practice squad before being signed to the active roster for the remainder of the season.
A four-year starter in college at Brigham Young, Francisco totaled 330 tackles and seven interceptions in 49 career games. He attended Kahuku (Hawaii) High School, the alma mater of three other current NFL players: Maake and Chris Kemoeatu and Chris Naeole.
Earlier in the free agency period, Carolina signed wide receiver Wallace Wright, defensive back Marcus Hudson and kicker Todd Carter. Wright and Hudson excelled on special teams coverage units for the New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers, respectively, while Carter served as a kickoff specialist at Grand Valley State.