Nine Panthers become free agents

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CHARLOTTE – After re-signing defensive tackles Colin Cole and Dwan Edwards, quarterback Joe Webb and guard Chris Scott, and signing four exclusive rights free agents, the Panthers are left with nine expiring contracts entering free agency.

Below is a breakdown of the Panthers' free agents.

Unrestricted

OT Byron Bell

After starting at right tackle for the first three years of his career, Bell became the Panthers' left tackle in 2014. He started 15 games, missing one with elbow and knee injuries.

LB Chase Blackburn

Since joining Carolina as an unrestricted free agent in 2013, Blackburn provided depth at linebacker but was slowed by injuries last season when he played in six games with two starts before being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury.

TE Ed Dickson (re-signed with Panthers)

Dickson played in every game and made 10 starts in his first season with Carolina in 2014. He performed primarily as a blocking tight end and lined up at fullback in the absence of Mike Tolbert but made several plays in the passing game late in the season. He finished with 10 catches for 115 yards and one touchdown.

CB James Dockery

After being waived in the final roster cutdown, Dockery rejoined the team in October when injuries hit the defensive backfield. He played in seven games and recorded 11 tackles.

DE Greg Hardy

Following a Pro Bowl campaign in which he tied a team record with 15 sacks, Hardy was placed on the exempt/commissioner's permission list after playing just one game in 2014. In five seasons with Carolina, Hardy played in 63 games and recorded 214 tackles, 34 sacks and seven forced fumbles.

C Kevin Matthews

Matthews spent the entire 2014 season on injured reserve after suffering a right shoulder injury during a preseason practice.

G Fernando Velasco

Velasco played 13 games and made seven starts in his first season with Carolina in 2014. He started six games, including the first four games of the season, at right guard and opened one game at left guard.  

OT Garry Williams

As was the case in 2013, when he suffered torn left anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments, Williams was placed on injured reserve following the 2014 season opener, this time with an injured back. Williams entered both seasons as Carolina's primary backup at both tackle spots.


OT Kevin Hughes

The Panthers did not make a qualifying offer to Hughes, who would have been an exclusive rights free agent. As a result, he becomes a free agent and is free to sign with any team. Hughes spent the entire 2014 season on injured reserve after suffering a right shoulder injury during a preseason practice.

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