Panthers sign draft picks Butler, McClover
The Carolina Panthers, who have been very active at the bargaining table this week, have signed offensive tackle Rashad Butler of the University of Miami, the latter of the team's two selections in the third round, to his first NFL contract. The Panthers also completed a deal with seventh-round choice Stanley McClover, a defensive end from Auburn.
Both players signed three-year contracts and Carolina now has agreements with five of its eight choices in the 2006 draft. Earlier in the week, the Panthers signed weakside linebacker James Anderson, the earlier of their two third-round selections and fifth-round tight end Jeff King.
Butler's contract is worth $1.56 million and it includes a $479,750 signing bonus. McClover received a signing bonus of $30,650 and his contract totals $1.11 million.
Overshadowed by fellow Hurricanes offensive tackle Eric Winston during much of his college career, Butler was a late riser on draft boards around the league and could play a key role with the Panthers, as he will vie for the No. 3 tackle spot behind starters Jordan Gross and Travelle Wharton. The top backup going into camp is journeyman Todd Fordham, a nine-year veteran.
Butler, 23, could provide Carolina not only a younger backup, but also a potential starter in time. While he will need to add some bulk to his lean frame (6-foot-4½, 293 pounds), Butler is an excellent athlete with quick feet, the kind of long arms coaches love, and fluid movement skills. In 39 appearances at Miami, he started 24 games, eight at left tackle and 16 at right tackle.
He was the 89th overall player chosen, taken just one slot behind Anderson, who also received a three-year contract, but with a signing bonus of $487,299.
McClover, who posted 15½ sacks in his final two seasons at Auburn, figures to add depth to an already well-stocked Carolina defensive line. Some teams projected McClover as a linebacker in the draft, but the Panthers likely will keep him at end, and he might have a chance to contribute as a situational pass rusher.
The sudden signing spree this week leaves the Panthers to complete deals with first-round tailback DeAngelo Williams, second-round cornerback Richard Marshall and fourth-round safety Nate Salley. Negotiations with Williams and Marshall are not expected to begin until next week.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here .
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