The Patriots signed Barner on Tuesday, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports. Barner will likely play a depth role at running back, but is more likely to make an impact as a punt returner. While Patrick Chung is the current Patriot in that role, Barner could potentially get some looks.
Barner was cut by the Panthers on Friday, Joe Person of The Athletic Carolina reports. Barner pieced together a decent showing during the preseason, but Cameron Artis-Payne, who outplayed him in the finale, appears to have secured the No. 3 spot on the Panthers' depth chart. Barner could be a strong candidate to latch on as a depth option with another club given his returning abilities in addition to being a capable depth back.
Barner rushed six times for 16 yards during Thursday's preseason finale against the Steelers. He also secured four of five targets for 27 yards. Barner has had his moments this preseason, but he was outperformed in this one by Cameron Artis-Payne, who represents Barner's primary competition for the No. 3 spot on the depth chart. There's a chance the Panthers keep both of these runners on the roster in advance of Week 1, but it wouldn't be a complete shock if Barner was let go in order to make room for another roster spot at cornerback or linebacker. After all, Barner's skills as a return man won't be moving the needle, given the talent Carolina has in Damiere Byrd, D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel.
Barner is signing with the Panthers, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. Barner entered the NFL as a sixth-round pick with the Panthers in 2013, but he's made 37 of his 45 regular-season appearances in a Philadelphia uniform, mostly serving as a return specialist and No. 4 back. He'll have a nice opportunity to make the 53-man roster in Carolina, where Fozzy Whittaker recently suffered a season-ending knee injury during offseason workouts. Barner, Cameron Artis-Payne and Elijah Hood will compete for backfield slotting behind the leading duo of Christian McCaffrey and C.J. Anderson.
Barner rushed twice for 21 yards in Sunday's 34-29 win over the Giants. Both totes came back-to-back at the end of the first quarter with the first going for 18 yards. He technically touched the ball on a third successive play when he recovered Nick Foles' fumble on the last play of the period. The Oregon product reverted to his primary role as a returner thereafter. He remains a distant fourth on the Eagles RB depth chart.
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|6||10/15||Kansas City Chiefs||28||27.00|
|9||11/05||Green Bay Packers||8||12.00|
|12||11/25||@New York Jets||6||11.00|
|17||12/30||New York Jets||6||11.00|
|3 Year Avg||24||103||1||6||40||0||20|