CHARLOTTE - The Panthers have re-signed a key cog on the defensive line, bringing back tackle Dwan Edwards, who had become an unrestricted free agent on March 12.
The 6-3, 300-pound Edwards started 14 games for Carolina in 2012 and ranked third among NFL defensive tackles with a career-high six sacks, which equaled the second most by a defensive tackle in team history. He also produced 56 tackles, eight quarterback pressures, one forced fumble and three passes defensed.
"I'm definitely glad to be coming back to the Panthers and hope to take the next step by getting to the playoffs," Edwards said. "I had my best year last year and I want to build on that and improve on that."
A strong interior pass rusher, Edwards' return should provide stability on the inside following the release of nose tackle Ron Edwards on March 1 and allow defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy to pressure the pocket from the outside. Last year, Edwards contributed to a unit that finished 10th in the NFL in total defense and ninth in sacks per pass play as the defensive line accounted for 37 of the team's 39 sacks.
Entering his 10th NFL season, Edwards helped anchor the Panthers' defensive line from start to finish in 2012 despite not joining the team until the beginning of the regular season after being released in the final roster cutdown by the Buffalo Bills. He made an immediate impact, recording two sacks in the season opener at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and stuffed the run in the final two games, holding the Oakland Raiders and New Orleans Saints to a combined 110 rushing yards.
"I feel like I can step into a leadership role now that I know guys and they know what I'm all about," Edwards said. "Hopefully, I can help some of our younger guys on the defensive line become better players."
Edwards becomes the second defensive starter to re-sign with Carolina in less than a week. Last Thursday, the Panthers secured unrestricted free agent cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, who started 11 games in 2012 and returned two interceptions for touchdowns.