CHARLOTTE – Three weeks before the start of free agency, the Panthers have locked up one of their potential free agents while letting another player become a free agent.
Carolina has signed guard Chris Scott, who would have become a restricted free agent at the start of the new league year on March 10, to a one-year contract. The team also released seven-year veteran safety Thomas DeCoud, who is immediately free to sign with any team.
Scott, a 6-4, 345-pounder, started seven games at right guard and one at left guard in 2013 but was released in the final roster countdown before last season. The Panthers, however, brought him back in mid-October following a rash of injuries to the offensive line, and he provided valuable depth the rest of the way - playing in eight of the final nine regular season games and both postseason games.
A fifth-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2010 NFL Draft from Tennessee, Scott has battled at times to stay in top physical condition but impressed the Panthers coaching staff with his preparedness upon his return last season.
While Scott finished strong in 2014, DeCoud's role shrunk down the stretch. Signed by Carolina last offseason after being released by the Atlanta Falcons, DeCoud started 11 of the first 12 games at free safety, missing one game with a hamstring injury. But he wasn't much of a factor over the final month of the regular season or in the postseason after rookie Tre Boston took over as the starter.
DeCoud finished the season with 46 tackles, one interception and two passes defensed.