With the NFL's new league year set to begin, the Panthers took care of some housekeeping by tendering contracts and therefore retaining the rights to three exclusive rights free agents: tight end Richie Brockel, cornerback R.J. Stanford and wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu.
The Panthers did not tender an offer to their other potential exclusive rights free agent - linebacker Thomas Williams – or to guard Geoff Schwartz, their only potential restricted free agent. That means Williams and Schwartz will become free agents Tuesday at 4 p.m.
Brockel made headlines when he scored on a trick play in a late-season victory at the Houston Texans, but he made a more subtle but significant impact throughout the season as a blocking back.
Stanford saw significant action late in the year when injuries depleted the secondary and recorded his first career interception in the season finale, while Ajirotutu contributed on special teams throughout.
Williams made an impact over the first half of the season, starting two games at middle linebacker and playing in five others before a neck injury ended his season.
Schwartz missed the entire 2011 season after suffering a hip injury early in training camp. A seventh-round draft pick from Oregon in 2008, he started all 16 games in 2010 – 11 at right tackle and five at right guard – and he played in all 16 games with three starts in 2009 after spending his rookie season on the practice squad.