The Panthers’ move to get corner C.J. Henderson is, indeed, an aggressive one. And a big part of why it’s a gamble is figuring out what Henderson mindset is. Much of the issue with Henderson, and trouble in getting him going the last few months, stemmed back to a simple question: How much does he really want to play football? Yes, I know people get upset when a player’s love for the game is questioned, but that was a very real thing for the Jaguars, and is especially vital when you consider how Henderson’s potential as an athlete has outpaced his production as a player. The Jaguars did their best the last two months to try and get the best from Henderson, and now the Panthers will get a swing at the same challenge. And if it works out, they’ll have two corners drafted in the top 10 playing on rookie deals when Jaycee Horn gets back from injury. But the “if” here is indeed a big one.
• So why do the Panthers feel good about it? Their corners coach, Evan Cooper, gave Henderson his first scholarship offer, when Henderson was still on his high school’s J.V. team, and Cooper was on staff at the University of Miami. The two have remained in contact since, and so Cooper’s background with Henderson was a factor in bringing him in. Based on that background, there’s also a belief that Henderson will be a better fit for Matt Rhule’s program than he was for Doug Marrone or Urban Meyer. And we’ll invoke the “if” again here … If it works out, the Panthers really just moved one of their picks in April down two rounds (they sent a three to the Jags and got a five and TE Dan Arnold back), and they’ll have him for less than $1 million for the rest of this year, $2.48 million for next year and $3.41 million in 2023.