The Panthers have agreed to terms with former Saints safety Roman Harper, reports the Charlotte Observer's Joe Person. ESPN's Adam Schefter says it's a two-year deal worth $4.5 million, with a $1.5 million bonus.
The defending NFC South champions have been quiet during the first week of free agency, watching half their secondary leave for long-term deals elsewhere (safety Mike Mitchell signed with the Steelers, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn signed with the Vikings).
Harper, 31, is a two-time Pro Bowler who played in only five games last season due to injury.
In 2012, when he started 16 games, Harper was one of the league's worst safeties, according to ProFootballFocus.com, ranking 87th out of 88 players. He was much better against the run than the pass, which explains why he's more comfortable closer to the line of scrimmage.
Still, the Panthers had some success with mid-tier free agents last offseason, and the hope is that Harper will follow suit in defensive coordinator Sean McDermott's system that fielded one of the NFL's best units.
In nine NFL seasons, Harper has 17 sacks and seven interceptions. Smith, along with several other Saints veterans, was released last month for salary-cap reasons.