CHARLOTTE – The Panthers either re-signed or retained the rights to 11 of their potential free agents before the new league year began, leaving 12 players from last season now free to sign with any team. That team technically could still be the Panthers, who have a history of bringing back players even after free agency begins.
Carolina retained a trio of proven pass rushers before they could test the market in defensive tackle Kawann Short and defensive ends Mario Addison and Charles Johnson. While the Panthers placed the franchise tag on Short and the sides can negotiate a long-term deal through July 15, Addison – the team's sack leader last season – signed a three-year extension while team captain Johnson signed for two years.
The Panthers tendered starting left guard Andrew Norwell, a potential restricted free agent, in order to retain his rights for next season, and also tendered a pair of exclusive rights free agents in center Tyler Larsen and punter Michael Palardy. The team also reached contract extensions with defensive end Wes Horton, running back Fozzy Whittaker, safety Colin Jones, wide receiver Brenton Bersin and linebacker Ben Jacobs.
Below is a look at the Panthers' 12 free agents:
DT Chas Alecxih: Showed some promise at training camp before suffering a knee injury that ended what would have been an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster.
WR Philly Brown (signed with Bills): Former undrafted free agent caught 79 passes for 1,019 yards and seven touchdowns in three up-and-down seasons.
WR LaRon Byrd: Had his moments among a deep position group at training camp before a concussion ended his bid.
WR Ted Ginn, Jr. (signed with Saints): Compiled 2,047 yards and 19 receiving touchdowns in three seasons with Panthers; totaled 2,238 yards and six receiving touchdowns in seven seasons with three others teams.
S Michael Griffin: Veteran signed to provide depth three games into last season. Recorded 34 tackles in 13 games.
CB Leonard Johnson (signed with Bills): Provided a spark in his Carolina debut at nickel corner after coming off reserve/non-football injury list to play last 10 games.
LB A.J. Klein (signed with Saints): Rookie contract of the productive 2013 fifth-round draft pick expired with him looking to land a starting role somewhere.
OT Mike Remmers (signed with Vikings): Starting right tackle for 24 consecutive games slid over to Michael Oher's left tackle spot for the last 13 games.
G Chris Scott (re-signed with Panthers): Versatile veteran has contributed at various spots along the offensive line for four years running.
C Ryan Wendell: Signed for insurance for the final five games with injuries crippling the offensive front but appeared in just one game on special teams.
CB Teddy Williams (re-signed with Panthers): Veteran of seven NFL seasons recorded his first interception in 2016 but missed final two months with a knee injury.