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Panthers sign linebacker James Onwualu

Panthers add camp depth as camp draws to a close

Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers have signed linebacker James Onwualu, filling the roster spot left vacant with the trade of Andre Smith to the Buffalo Bills for a conditional seventh round pick in 2023. They hosted Onwualu for a try out on Monday.

It is unclear where Onwualu is in the COVID protocol and when he will be able to join team activities. Whenever he can join the team, he will have his work cut out for him to make the team as the roster has to be cut down to 53 players from its current 80 by Saturday. Head coach Matt Rhule has said that only five to seven guys are on the bubble, or competing for the last few roster spots.

While the Panthers certainly have questions at the top of the linebacker depth chart following Luke Kuechly’s retirement this year, look for Onwualu to make his name on special teams if he earns a roster spot.

Onwualu has been bouncing around training camp and practice squad rosters since graduating from Notre Dame in 2017. He has spent time with the Los Angeles Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, and Jacksonville Jaguars.