The Carolina Panthers have been looking for a left tackle.
They found one who inspired a movie – and they hope he has a Hollywood ending left in him.
The Panthers announced Friday they have signed former Baltimore and Tennessee offensive tackle Michael Oher to a two-year contract.
Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.
Never miss a local story.
Oher will get the first crack to replace Byron Bell, an unrestricted free agent who will not be re-signed after a disappointing 2014. Bell moved from the right side after longtime left tackle Jordan Gross retired last year.
Oher’s rags-to-riches story was turned into the 2009 film, “The Blind Side.”
Oher, 28, the Ravens’ first-round pick in 2009, started 80 consecutive games in his five seasons with Baltimore. He played both right and left tackle, and was on the left side in 2012 during the Ravens’ Super Bowl-winning season.
“We look forward to having Michael be a part of what we are building here,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said in a news release. “He’s a pro who understands what it takes to win. A big part of why we pursued Michael was his relationship with offensive line coach John Matsko and the opportunity to have him work with (assistant offensive line coach) Ray Brown. We are excited to have him.”
Matsko was Oher’s position coach for two seasons in Baltimore.
Oher struggled in Tennessee after the Titans signed him to a five-year, $20 million deal last offseason. Oher was ranked among the 10 worst tackles in the league by Pro Football Focus in 2014, and was waived-injured on Feb. 5.
According to PFF’s data, Oher gave up six sacks and allowed 26 quarterback hurries in 11 games before sustaining a toe injury that required surgery. He was placed on injured reserve in December.
Oher was not made available to Charlotte reporters after he signed Friday and did not return messages left by the Observer. But he told the Panthers’ website his toe is healthy and he’s back to full speed after recovering from an injury that nagged him for some time.
Oher, 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds, said he liked the winning atmosphere he found in Charlotte while visiting the Panthers last month.
“I’m excited to be joining an organization that knows how to win. They’ve won the past two division championships, and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Oher told the team website. “When I came here on a visit, the culture was great. They’re very into winning and doing everything possible to win.”
Oher has 10 career playoff starts, more than anyone on the Panthers’ current roster.
Oher’s ascension from the streets of Memphis to a full athletic scholarship at Mississippi was chronicled in the best-seller “The Blind Side: The Evolution of a Game” by Michael Lewis. The book was later made into the motion picture that starred Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw and featured cameos by several SEC coaches.
Oher played with Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy in high school and at Mississippi, where Oher was a consensus, first-team All-American in 2008.
But the two won’t be teammates in Carolina: The Panthers don’t plan to re-sign Hardy following his domestic violence arrest last year.
Oher was named to the NFL’s All-Rookie team in 2009 after the Ravens drafted him 23rd overall. He was the Ravens’ left tackle in 2010 and 2012, when they set a franchise record for points scored and beat San Francisco in the Super Bowl.
Until his toe injury, Oher had been a model of durability. He started the first 91 games of his career before being sidelined with the toe issue.
He also was bothered by a biceps injury last preseason with the Titans.
Person: 704-358-5123; Twitter: @josephperson