Stephen Hill didn't remain unemployed for long.
The Carolina Panthers announced on Tuesday that they signed the former second-round pick of the New York Jets and placed him on the practice squad:
The #Panthers have signed WR Stephen Hill to the practice squad and terminated LB D.J. Smith.— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) September 2, 2014
Hill was cut by the Jets last week. One of Hill's agents, Alan Herman, felt he got a raw deal by the team to explain in part why his time in New York didn't work out, per ESPN.com's Rich Cimini:
I'm disappointed in Rex because I don't think he publicly supported Stephen like he should have. You never hear him call out his defensive guys. I don't see him criticizing Kyle Wilson or Quinton Coples. So, yeah, I'm disappointed. I think the Jets have to accept part of the blame. I think he deserved one more year. I just think the Jets should've stuck with him for another year.
Now that he's with Carolina, the 23-year-old can start with a clean slate. The Panthers could certainly use him after their receiving corps was gutted during the offseason, losing Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr.
Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer remains cautiously optimistic that Hill will be able to help the Panthers in 2014:
Hill was among the lowest-ranked WRs in catch percentage the past two seasons, per @PFF. Still, good upside for a practice squad signing.— Joe Person (@josephperson) September 2, 2014
Carolina might have felt the need to move on Hill now, with ESPN.com's Adam Caplan reporting that the Washington Redskins were mulling a deal:
#Redskins were also interested in working Hill out, but Panthers offered him deal.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) September 2, 2014
Signing the wideout is unquestionably a gamble. The Jets aren't exactly flush with wide receivers, either, so the fact that they cut ties with Hill doesn't look good on the surface. However, some players simply can't work in a certain system or under a certain coaching staff.
Perhaps it can all click together for Hill in Charlotte. Considering the massive chip on his shoulder, the Panthers now have a young and highly motivated wide receiver with loads of potential.
By signing him only for the practice squad, Carolina is covering itself well in the event the deal doesn't work out, too. This looks to be a nice low-risk, high-reward addition for a wideout-needy club. Hill doesn't make the Panthers a Super Bowl contender, but if he can be a steady target for Cam Newton, the passing game will be much less of a concern.