The Carolina Panthers have signed veteran free-agent receiver Chris Hogan to a one-year deal, the team announced Friday.
Hogan, who is coming off a season in which he totaled 35 receptions for 532 yards and three touchdowns for the New England Patriots, brings veteran experience to a Carolina receiving corps that moved on from 2015 second-round pick Devin Funchess and Damiere Byrd.
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Hogan seemingly understood New England’s decision not to re-sign him, making him available for free agency and ultimately to sign with the Panthers.
“It’s a business,” Hogan said. “I can’t read too much into it. At the end of the day they’re trying to run the team as best as they see fit. Sometimes things don’t work out. I’m just really excited about this opportunity.”
Hogan, who turns 32 in October, is the oldest receiver on the Panthers’ roster, ahead of Torrey Smith, who will turn 31 in January.
The experience is key, with the team’s top two receivers 2018 first-round pick DJ Moore (21) and 2017 second-round pick Curtis Samuel (22). Moore took over the No. 1 receiver spot midway through last season when Funchess had five dropped passes in a loss to the Lions. Samuel moved into the No. 2 slot with the Panthers going with more youth and speed.
Hogan looks forward to playing with quarterback Cam Newton after spending the past three seasons with Tom Brady.
“I’m really excited about it,” Hogan said. “I’ve been in the building now for a short period of time. Everyone that talked to me about Cam [said] he’s the ultimate competitor. Him and Tom are very similar in that respect. I know I’ll enjoy working with him and being on the same field with him. He’s an incredible athlete.”
Some had projected a bigger season for Hogan with the Patriots in 2018, given that receiver Julian Edelman opened the season by serving a four-game NFL suspension and several other receivers the Patriots hoped would emerge didn’t pan out.
That thrust Hogan, who was held without a catch on six targets in Super Bowl LIII, into a front-line role at various points of the season. The Patriots, however, seemed to like his fit best as a No. 3 or 4 option, as evidenced by how his snaps declined after the club traded for Josh Gordon in mid-September.
In 40 regular-season games for the Patriots over the 2016-2018 seasons, Hogan totaled 107 receptions for 1,651 yards and 12 touchdowns. In nine playoff games, he totaled 34 catches for 542 yards and 4 TDs.
The Patriots had signed Hogan to a three-year, $12 million contract as a restricted free agent from the Buffalo Bills in March 2016.
ESPN’s David Newton and Mike Reiss contributed to this report.