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Panthers sign QB Webb, CB Cason and WR Underwood

The Associated Press

The Carolina Panthers are finally getting active in free agency.

The Panthers bolstered three areas of need on Friday, signing unrestricted free agent quarterback Joe Webb and cornerback Antoine Cason to one-year contracts and wide receiver Tiquan Underwood to a two-year deal.

Financial terms were not released.

The moves come after the Panthers signed free agents safety Roman Harper and wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery earlier this week.

Webb gives the Panthers an extra quarterback during offseason workouts with Cam Newton sidelined four months rehabilitating from ankle surgery.

Derek Anderson, who re-signed with the team, is expected to run the first-team offense while Newton is out.

Webb spent the last four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, seeing action at quarterback and wide receiver. The Panthers said in a press release they plan to use Webb at quarterback.

A former sixth-round draft pick out of Alabama-Birmingham, Webb completed 88 of 152 passes for 853 yards and three touchdowns and five interceptions with Minnesota.

Webb signed with the Panthers after what coach Ron Rivera described as a ''strong workout'' on Friday.

''He is a young player who intrigues us and has a similar skill set to Cam,'' Rivera said in a press release. ''With Cam sidelined for the spring, it is an opportunity to get a good evaluation of Joe as well as Matt Blanchard, who was on our practice squad last year.''

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Cason is a six-year NFL veteran who played for Rivera in San Diego when Rivera was the Chargers defensive coordinator.

Cason has played in 80 games with 49 career starts and is a potential replacement for starting cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, who signed this offseason as a free agent with Minnesota.

''I have experience with Antoine and look forward to working with him again,'' Rivera said.

Cason was a first-round draft pick by the Chargers in 2008 and had 12 interceptions and four forced fumbles in five seasons in San Diego.

He signed with Arizona last year and saw his playing team dramatically reduced. He played in all 16 games but did not start, finishing with 14 tackles and two interceptions.

Cason has been a durable player. He's played in 96 consecutive games, which is tied for the third-longest active streak among NFL cornerbacks behind only William Gay (112) and Corey Graham (109), according to the Panthers.

Underwood played the last two seasons with Tampa Bay where he started 10 games.

He brings big play potential to Carolina's offense - something they lost when Ted Ginn Jr. signed a free agent contract with the Cardinals this offseason.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound receiver caught 24 passes last season for 440 yards and four touchdowns in 2013, averaging 40 yards per TD catch and 18 yards per reception.

''Tiquan has the kind of speed that helps any team and has shown good progress as a receiver,'' Rivera said.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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