CHARLOTTE – The Panthers have released James Anderson, the franchise's all-time leader in games played by a linebacker.
Anderson played in 94 games with 53 starts during his seven-year tenure in Carolina. He started 12 games and recorded 84 tackles in 2012, including a team-record 20 stops in Week 3 versus the New York Giants, before missing the final four games due to a back injury.
In 2011, Anderson set a single-season team record for tackles with 174. That record has since been broken by Luke Kuechly, who recorded 205 tackles in 2012.
A third-round draft choice out of Virginia Tech in 2006, Anderson spent the first three seasons of his NFL career primarily as a special teams contributor. He saw extended time at outside linebacker in 2009 when he made seven starts and became a full-time starter in 2010, recording 154 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
"I would like to thank James for what he has meant not only to our organization but also to this community," head coach Ron Rivera said. "James went about his business in a professional manner and did everything we asked. We wish him the best."
With Anderson's departure, the Panthers are set to enter the 2013 season with three linebackers boasting extensive starting experience – Kuechly, Jon Beason and Thomas Davis.
Beason missed all but four games in 2012 due to injury, and Kuechly excelled at middle linebacker in his place. Davis – who returned from three anterior cruciate ligament tears in his right knee in less than two years – produced a remarkable comeback season at weakside linebacker, while Anderson manned the starting strongside spot that is now vacant.
That spot is now perhaps best suited for Beason, who has experience playing outside linebacker and said he is open to the idea.