Clausen, Panthers strike four-year, $6.3M deal as camp opens

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- The Carolina Panthers signed quarterback Jimmy Clausen to a four-year, $6.3 million contract that includes $2.53 million in guarantees Wednesday, ensuring they will not have any rookie holdouts for the start of training camp.

Clausen, a second-round draft pick from Notre Dame, agreed to his deal hours before the Panthers reported to camp at Wofford College. He was the last of Carolina's 10 draft selections to be signed.

"With your draft picks, any day they miss, it takes a week to catch up," Panthers coach John Fox said. "I think it's always important to have your draft picks signed. We've done pretty well with that over the years."

Clausen's agent, Gary Wichard, and the Panthers worked through the night to reach a deal, which was struck after a fourth-year escalator -- a rarity for a second-round pick -- was included and tops out at $2.85 million.

The deal was reached in time for Clausen to report on time. He was spotted walking into the dormitory while looking at his phone late Wednesday morning. He didn't stop for reporters, and the team didn't make him available after an afternoon team meeting.

Clausen likely will start practice Thursday as the third-string quarterback behind Matt Moore and Hunter Cantwell, but eventually could challenge for the starting job. The Panthers released seven-year starter Jake Delhomme during the offseason.

"Has he signed? I don't even know," Moore said when asked about Clausen as he checked into camp. "It's huge. That's obviously the way you want it, so he can be here and not miss any meetings. That'll be good for him, not to miss anything."

Projected by many to be a top-10 pick, Clausen dropped to Carolina with the 48th overall selection in the draft. The fall cost Clausen money, but he landed with a team that was looking for a quarterback of the future and one that runs the same pro-style offense he played under at Notre Dame.

Former Fighting Irish coach Charlie Weis once worked in New England with Panthers offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson.

The Panthers made room for Clausen on the 80-man roster by waiving linebacker Brett Warren.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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