Panthers add receiving depth, acquire Shenault from Jaguars

Jacksonville received an undisclosed 2023 draft pick in the trade

The Panthers acquired Jacksonville receiver Laviska Shenault on Monday in exchange for a 2023 draft pick. Shenault, a 2020 second-round pick by the Jaguars, totaled 1,219 receiving yards and five touchdowns in his first two NFL seasons. (John Raoux / AP Photo)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Receiver Laviska Shenault, a second-round draft pick in 2020, is getting a fresh start in Carolina.

The Jacksonville Jaguars traded Shenault to the Panthers on Monday for an undisclosed draft pick in 2023.

It’s the second trade in a year between the teams involving early-round picks. Jacksonville sent troubled cornerback C.J. Henderson to Carolina last September for tight end Dan Arnold and a fifth-round pick in 2022. Henderson was the ninth overall pick in 2020.

So now Jacksonville has dumped two of its top three selections that year on Carolina, which already has helped Henderson make huge strides as a professional.

Shenault opened training camp in a tight battle for a roster spot despite catching 121 passes for 1,219 yards and five touchdowns during his first two NFL seasons. The Jaguars signed receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones in free agency and liked what they saw from Tim Jones in the preseason.

Moving to Carolina will give Shenault a fourth head coach, fourth offensive coordinator and fourth receivers coach in three years.

“In this game of football, excuses are the No. 1 no-no,” Shenault said earlier this month. “At the same time, it has been a long two years and a lot of different things have happened. But we’re focused on this year. There’s a lot of high hopes, a lot of great things, a lot of great motivation. The vibes are up.”

A hamstring injury slowed Shenault during voluntary workouts in the spring and again early in training camp. And that’s an issue for a specialty receiver whose role had been tweaked to be roughly eight to 10 plays a game.

Shenault lacks the speed to be a typical X or Z wideout or to be much of a threat out of the backfield, a la San Francisco’s Deebo Samuel. He also doesn’t return kicks and has played just 11 snaps of special teams in two seasons.

The 42nd overall pick in 2020, Shenault caught 58 passes for 600 yards and five touchdowns in 14 games as a rookie. He also ran 18 times for 91 yards. He had 63 receptions for 619 yards last year as well as 11 carries for 41 yards.

But he also led the team in drops with eight in 2021 and was the subject of trade rumors after Jacksonville spent nearly $60 million guaranteed to land Kirk, Jones and tight Evan Engram in free agency.

Shenault responded by hiring a speed coach in the offseason and tweaking his workout routine to focus less on lifting and more on movement.

The Panthers made another move Monday, trading offensive lineman Dennis Daley to the Titans for a fifth-round pick in 2024. Daley, a fifth-round by Carolina out of South Carolina in 2019, played 34 games over three seasons with the Panthers, including starting nine games last year.

The trades come after the Panthers suffered some losses in Friday’s preseason games against the Bills. Sam Darnold, who lost the quarterback battle with Baker Mayfield during training camp, has a “significant” high ankle sprain, according to coach Matt Rhule.

Rhule hinted that Darnold will be placed on short-term injured reserve. With rookie Matt Corral out for the season with a Lisfranc tear in his left foot suffered earlier in the preseason, PJ Walker is currently Mayfield’s backup.

Kicker Zane Gonzalez also suffered a long-term groin injury while warming up during the Buffalo game. The Panthers are looking for a replacement for Gonzalez, who made 20 of 22 field goals last season ad was placed on injured reserve Tuesday as the team cut down to 53 players.

Among Carolina’s final roster cuts were safety Juston Burris, and wide receivers Keith Kirkwood and Brandon Zylstra.