Free-agent safety Quintin Mikell draws Carolina Panthers’ interest

07/11/2013 6:50 PM

09/22/2013 1:02 PM

Panthers coach Ron Rivera confirmed the team has interest in free agent safety Quintin Mikell, who was in Philadelphia when Rivera was an Eagles assistant.

“Without getting into details, I think there’s a little curiosity and that’s about as much as I can say about that,” Rivera said Thursday before teeing off at a celebrity golf tournament hosted by Bobcats president Fred Whitfield.

Geoff Mosher of reported last week the Panthers and Mikell were talking, and a deal could be done soon.

Mikell, 32, has been a starter for six of his 10 NFL seasons, the last two with St. Louis. The Boise State product is an in-the-box safety who has finished with 75 tackles or more the past three seasons.He would represent an upgrade over the Panthers’ current candidates at strong safety, a field that includes undrafted rookie Robert Lester, free agent acquisition Mike Mitchell, second-year pro D.J. Campbell and Haruki Nakamura, who was benched midway through his first season with Carolina.

The Panthers report to training camp at Wofford in two weeks.

“He can play. He’s a good football player,” Rivera said of Mikell. “We’ll see how things go. It’s still early. We’ve got a couple weeks left to go.”

Rough offseason: At breakfast before Thursday’s golf tournament, Hall-of-Famer Warren Sapp and several other former NFL greats discussed the spate of offseason arrests around the league this year, headlined by the murder charge against former New England tight end Aaron Hernandez.

Sapp said the NFL’s preventative measures, such as its rookie symposium, can only go so far.

“These are grown men we’re talking about and unthinkable crimes. We were just talking about it at the (breakfast) table, you’ve got to be kidding me,” Sapp said. “This ain’t even a kid from the ’hood. He’s from Connecticut. I’m dumbfounded, I really am. The league’s been running 90-plus years and it’ll run 90 more.”

Sapp, an NFL Network analyst whose final season was 2007, was charged with domestic battery in 2010 before prosecutors dropped the charges.

Asked about the 30-plus arrests of NFL players since the Super Bowl, Sapp said, “It’s just crazy. I guess it’s just the world we live in nowadays.”

Extra points: Rivera said rookie offensive lineman Edmund Kugbila, who missed most of the Panthers’ OTAs and minicamp with a leg injury, should be ready to go for the start of training camp. Wide receiver Lamont Bryant, who was sidelined with a hamstring injury during the spring, also has been cleared. Rivera’s daughter, Courtney, a junior pitcher at UCLA, will be in Oklahoma City this weekend trying out for a spot on Puerto Rico’s Pan Am Games roster. Ron Rivera’s father is from Puerto Rico.

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