Carolina Panthers re-sign former CFL all-star receiver Brandon Zylstra

Photo courtesy: Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers have re-signed former Canadian Football League all-star receiver Brandon Zylstra, per sources.

He was scheduled to become a restricted NFL free agent on March 17 — it’s a one-year contract for the 2021 season. Zylstra has played 24 games over two seasons in Carolina, making 11 receptions for 141 yards while rushing one time for one yard, and returning one kick-off for six yards. He played all 16 games with the Panthers as mainly a core special teamer last year.

During the 2020 season, Zylstra scored his first career NFL touchdown by recovering a muffed punt against Washington in a Week 16 Panthers win. In November, he caught a 28-yard pass on a fake punt, his longest career NFL reception.

Zylstra led the CFL with 1,687 receiving yards on 100 receptions adding five touchdowns in 2017 with the Edmonton Football Team on the way to being named a league all-star. That season earned attention from a number of NFL franchises and led to Zylstra signing with Minnesota in January of 2018.

That year, Zylstra spent that entire NFL season with the Vikings, playing in 16 games primarily in a special teams role. He returned four punts for 26 yards, one kick-off for 15 yards and caught one pass for 23 yards. Minnesota kept just four receivers on the active roster following training camp in 2019 and released Zylstra among the final roster cuts.

The six-foot-two, 215-pound Zylstra was claimed on waivers by the Panthers one day later. He spent nearly that entire season on Carolina’s practice roster, earning his chance to be activated for the last game of the regular schedule when the athletic pass catcher recorded career highs of six receptions for 96 yards.

The undrafted Spicer, Minnesota native played his collegiate football at Concordia College. He finished his career on the Moorhead campus with 120 receptions for 1,932 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns in 29 career games with the Cobbers, including a 16.1 yards per catch average.

Edmonton tracked him and provided an opportunity to prove he could play in the pros. Zylstra quickly emerged when activated, catching 34 passes for 508 yards and three touchdowns in six games to finish the 2016 season. That built his confidence and Zylstra exploded in year two, which led to his career south of the border.

Through his NFL career to date, Zylstra has earned over $1.8 million in salary.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.