Panthers sign top draft pick Clausen

Clausen, the 48th overall pick in the draft, is likely to begin the season as the third quarterback but is expected to challenge for the starting job.

The Carolina Panthers signed Jimmy Clausen, the quarterback who was their top draft pick earlier this year, setting the stage for a potential battle for the starting role on a team looking to return to the play-offs. Terms of Clausen's deal were not announced but local media reported he signed a four-year contract worth as much as US$6.3 million (Dh23.1m). Clausen, the 48th overall pick in the draft, is likely to begin the season as the third quarterback but is expected to challenge for the starting job on a Panthers team that fell short of the play-offs last season after winning the division the year before.

Matt Moore looks set be the initial starter as the team released long-time starter Jake Delhomme, who has since signed for the Cleveland Browns, in the off-season while Clausen and Hunter Cantwell battle for the back-up spot in training camp. Elsewhere, the New York Jets have signed Mark Brunell, a free agent quarterback, to serve as a veteran back-up for last year's rookie starter Mark Sanchez. A three-time Pro Bowler with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the 39-year-old Brunell will be entering his 18th season in the NFL.

After three seasons with the Jaguars (2004/07), Brunell went on to play for Washington and won a Super Bowl last season with New Orleans. Last season he completed 15 of 30 passes for 102 yards for New Orleans as a back-up to Drew Brees. Originally drafted in the fifth round of the 1993 NFL draft by the Packers, he spent two years in Green Bay before being traded to Jacksonville in 1995. Rolando McClain became the highest pick in April's NFL Draft to sign a contract when the linebacker agreed to terms with the Oakland Raiders.

McClain was the eighth overall pick. The draft's top three picks - quarterback Sam Bradford (St Louis), defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh (Detroit) and Gerald McCoy (Tampa Bay) - are among the unsigned players as training camps start this week. * Reuters

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