Eli Apple, Panthers Agree 1-Year, $3M Contract After Failed Raiders Deal

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst II

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - DECEMBER 22:  Eli Apple #25 of the New Orleans Saints watches from the sideline during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on December 22, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Free-agent cornerback Eli Apple has agreed to sign with the Carolina Panthers, the team announced Thursday.

Joe Person @josephperson

It's a 1-year deal for Eli Apple, the former top-10 pick who turns 25 in August.

On Friday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported it was a one-year, $3 million deal. 

The 24-year-old had previously agreed to a deal with the Las Vegas Raiders, as ESPN's Adam Schefter noted March 18, but Schefter reported April 2 that the two sides "were unable to finalize a contract."

Apple's NFL career began when the New York Giants drafted him 10th overall in 2016. He had a tumultuous two-plus seasons before the Giants traded him to the New Orleans Saints in October 2018.

Former Giants teammate Landon Collins described Apple as "a cancer" in an interview with Bob Wischusen on The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 ESPN New York in December 2017:

"There's only just one corner that ... needs to grow, and we all know who that is. That would be the only person I would change out of our secondary group. Besides, the other two guys, [Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie] and [Janoris Jenkins], I love those two guys. They play hard. They love what they do. But that first pick ... he's a cancer."

Apple played 30 games (23 starts) for the Giants with one pick, two forced fumbles, 20 passes defended and 100 tackles (82 solo).

In the Bayou, he started all 25 regular-season games he appeared in and recorded two interceptions one forced fumble and 58 tackles (53 solo).

Pro Football Focus graded Apple at 62.9 as a Giant and 65.0 as a Saint. For reference, San Francisco 49ers All-Pro Richard Sherman was Pro Football Focus' top-ranked cornerback for the 2019 regular season, and he had an overall grade of 88.9.

The Panthers lost cornerback James Bradberry to the New York Giants in free agency. The team then drafted former Notre Dame cornerback Troy Pride Jr. in the fourth round and former Florida International cornerback Stantley Thomas-Oliver III in the seventh round of April's draft.

Apple will presumably compete for the opportunity to start alongside 24-year-old Donte Jackson at cornerback for the Panthers, who ranked 20th against the pass last year.