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Former UW–Platteville All-American inks two-year, $6 million deal with Carolina Panthers
Dan Arnold
Former UW–Platteville standout Dan Arnold signed a two-year, $6 million free agent deal to join the Carolina Panthers. Arnold caught 31 passes for 438 yards and four touchdowns last year for the Arizona Cardinals in his fourth NFL season.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.

Dan Arnold, TE, Carolina Panthers, UW–Platteville almni

CHARLOTTE — The Carolina Panthers agreed to terms with tight end Dan Arnold on a two-year, $6-millon deal Friday.

Arnold, a former NCAA Division III All-American at UW–Platteville and a four-year NFL veteran, caught 31 passes for 438 yards and four touchdowns last year with the Arizona Cardinals. He started five games during the 2020 season. 

The Panthers will be Arnold’s third team in five years. He caught 12 passes for 150 yards and one touchdown for the New Orleans Saints as a rookie in 2018. He spend his rookie season in 2017 on the injured reserve list.

In 2019, he caught eight passes for 127 yards in five combined games with the Saints and Cardinals.

Arnold grew up in Illinoi, but after his family moved, played his senior year of high school at Shanley High School in Fargo, N.D. 

Without a scholarship offer in high school, he choose to play wide receiver at UW–Platteville, where he earned Division III first-team All-American honors as a senior in 2016, and had 2,097 receiving yards in his final two seasons. He also won 60-meter hurdles at the Indoor WIAC Championships and finished second at the NCAA DIII National Championships.

Arnold was undrafted in 2017, but received an invitation to rookie minicamp with the Saints, who eventually signed him to a three-year contract that summer.

While Arnold was with the Saints from 2017–19, he worked directly with current Panthers’ offensive coordinator Joe Brady when he was an offensive assistant with the Saints during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Arnold was on injured reserve in 2017, but played in 10 games with one start in 2018 and saw action in two games for New Orleans in 2019.

Current Carolina starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was in New Orleans during 2018 and 2019, though he and Arnold never hooked up for a completion during the regular season.

Arnold was waived by the Saints on Dec. 4, 2019 and claimed off waivers a day later by Arizona. He then caught six passes for 102 yards and a pair of TDs in the Cardinals’ final three games of the season.

The 6’6”, 220-pound tight end entered the 2020 season with some low-key buzz in training camp, and after a handful of strong showings in training camp caught the eye of the NFL Network’s Peter Schrager, who tweeted about Arnold as one to watch in the 2020 season.

In 2020, Arnold became the first Cardinals’ tight end since Jay Novacek and Rob Awalt in 1988 to record at least 400 receiving yards and four touchdowns in one season.

Arnold is the tallest skill player on Carolina’s current roster, and taller than former Panthers’ tight ends Greg Olsen and Wesley Walls, both listed at 6’5”.

Last season, Arnold made a number of incredible leaping catches in the end zone in a late-season stretch that saw him record three touchdowns on four catches against the Rams and Giants in Weeks 13 and 14.

The Panthers currently have five tight ends on their roster, none with more NFL experience than Arnold, third-year man Ian Thomas, second-year pro Colin Thompson and Giovanni Ricci and Stephen Sullivan, who were rookies in the league this past season.

The NFL Draft is scheduled for April 29 through May 1.

Arnold currently resides in Platteville during the offseason with his wife Morgan.