Panthers re-sign Hargartner, release Wharton

CHARLOTTE - The Panthers re-signed one veteran offensive lineman Tuesday and parted ways with another.

Guard Geoff Hangartner, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent, re-signed before the start of the new league year, and guard Travelle Wharton was released.

"It was an extremely difficult decision on Travelle," Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said.  "He's been a tremendous player for us, and he is a class act. It got to the point where in the big picture we decided it was a move we needed to make.

"We placed a June 1 designation on his release, which means we will carry his cap number until June 1, but Travelle is immediately able to negotiate and sign with another team."

Hangartner and Wharton, along with center Ryan Kalil, started all 16 games for the Panthers last season – Hangartner at right guard, Wharton at left guard.

They helped the offense set team records for net yards (6,237) and first downs (345). The Panthers ranked third in the NFL in rushing with 150.5 yards per game, and the offense as a whole ranked fifth in the NFL in scoring with 406 points.

Hangartner rejoined the Panthers prior to the start of the 2011 regular season after being released in the final roster cutdown by the Buffalo Bills. Known as "Piggy" to his teammates, the 6-5, 295-pounder was a fifth-round pick of the Panthers in 2005 out of Texas A&M and played center and guard for four seasons before spending two seasons with Buffalo.

The Panthers selected Wharton in the third round of the 2004 draft out of South Carolina, and he started 99 games over eight seasons, second only to left tackle Jordan Gross for most starts by an offensive lineman in team history.

Wharton became a starter in the sixth game of his rookie season and started 28 consecutive regular season games and three playoff games before missing the 2006 season with a knee injury suffered in the opening game. He missed seven games in 2010 with a toe injury but otherwise started in 62 of a possible 64 games from 2007 through last season.

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