NFL News & Analysis

Jaguars trade former first-round CB C.J. Henderson to Panthers

Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback C.J. Henderson (23) runs to the bench during the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers are acquiring cornerback C.J. Henderson in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The Panthers are sending tight end Dan Arnold and a third-round pick to the Jaguars in the trade for Henderson and a fifth-round pick. A need opened in Carolina for a cornerback when 2021 first-round pick Jaycee Horn broke multiple bones in his foot on Thursday Night Football in Week 3. Horn is expected to sit out for two to three months.

The 3-0 Panthers are set up well for the future at the position with Horn and Henderson, the ninth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Carolina also has A.J. Bouye, Donte Jackson, Keith Taylor and Stantley Thomas-Oliver at cornerback.
Henderson was the subject of trade rumors this summer.

The winless Jaguars, meanwhile, needed help at tight end after James O’Shaughnessy suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 2. Rookie Tommy Tremble is expected to see more work in Carolina with Arnold dealt.

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Arnold signed a two-year, $6 million contract with $4.5 million guaranteed this offseason in Carolina after a career season with the Arizona Cardinals in which he hauled in 31 receptions for 438 yards and four touchdowns. The Jaguars were completely devoid of talent at the tight end position, and Arnold is a unique talent, standing at just 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds. He will count roughly $766K against Jacksonville's salary cap in 2021, with a partially guaranteed $2.435 million 2022 salary. Carolina will take on $1,272,500 in dead cap this season and next.

As for Henderson, Jacksonville is already giving up on him after just one NFL season. He finished the 2020 campaign with a 58.3 coverage grade on 270 coverage snaps, the seventh-best mark among the 2020 cornerback class.

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Jacksonville continues its efforts to completely overhaul its defense. The team hired new defensive coordinator Joe Cullen, who has been a defensive line coach at each of his past six stops, including in Jacksonville from 2010-12. The Jaguars then signed former Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin to a three-year, $40 million deal this offseason — the second-largest free-agent deal handed out this offseason at the position. This move suggested that Jacksonville would look to run more Cover 1 or Cover 3 as opposed to the heavy man coverage they leaned on in past years. Through three weeks, the Jaguars are running Cover 3 on 39.9% of defensive snaps — the third-highest rate in the NFL.

Henderson is a man coverage cornerback and perhaps was no longer a fit in Cullen's scheme. The Jaguars also added former Georgia cornerback Tyson Campbell with the first pick in the second round of this year's draft and appear to be set going forward with him and Griffin as their wide cornerbacks.

Almost 65% of Henderson's four-year rookie contract has already been paid by the Jaguars, with about 60% of the total coming via his signing bonus. Jacksonville will take on $3,120,216 in dead cap in 2021 and $6,240,432 in dead cap in 2022. Carolina will inherit a fully guaranteed three-year, $7.17 million contract.

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