Panthers free up space; tender contracts to FA's

Witherspoon

The Panthers have cut Rodney Peete and Doug Brzezinski, saving them roughly $2.5 million under the salary cap. Some of that dough will go to signing their 12 Restricted and Exclusive Rights Free Agents, whom they tendered contract offers today.

The Carolina Panthers have tendered contracts to their 8 Exclusive Rights Free Agents and their 4 Restricted Free Agents.

DE Kemp Rasmussen, RB Jamal Robertson, CB Dante Wesley and LB Will Witherspoon all are Restricted Free Agents and have been tendered one year contracts. Any player who has finished his third season in the NFL and whose contract expired after the 2004 season is then a Restricted Free Agent. Now that the Panthers have tendered offers to these players, the Panthers retain the rights of first refusal, meaning that if another team were to select one of these players, the Panthers could gain draft picks in compensation for their signing with another team. If the Restricted Free Agent came into the NFL as an Undrafted Free Agent, the Panthers would not receive a pick in compensation, however, if the player was drafted, the Panthers would receive a draft choice of the same round in which the departing player was drafted. Will Witherspoon, however, was given a first round tender, meaning if any team chose to sign Witherspoon to an offer sheet prior to April 15 (after which Restricted Free Agents can only negotiate with their own team), and the Panthers chose not to match it, the signing team must surrender a first round pick in the upcoming NFL draft to the Panthers.

DT, Jordan Carstens, LB Vinny Ciurciu, FB Casey Cramer, RB Joey Harris, CB Eddie Jackson, DT Omari Jordan, DT Cleveland Pinkney and LB Sean Tufts all are Exclusive Rights Free Agents and have been tendered. They can only negotiate with the Panthers until the Panthers decide to relinquish their rights. An Exclusive Rights Free Agent is any player who has been in the NFL less than 3 years and has an expiring contract.

Peete Cut, but should return.

The Panthers cut QB Rodney Peete on Monday, but his agent, Ken Kremer, noted that the Panthers do indeed plan on bringing the 39 year old QB back for another season.

"With Rodney, they are going to ask him come back," Kremer said. "(Coach John) Fox is going to talk with Rodney personally and they want him to come back."

The Panthers cut Peete to save roughly $1 million in salary cap space. He more than likely will be signed to the veteran minimum.

Brzezinski, Willig unlikely to return.

G Doug Brezezinski and T Matt Willig are unlikely to return to the Panthers. Brzezinski was cut Monday and his release opens-up roughly $1.5 million in cap room. Brzezinski was largely regarded as a dissapointment during his two seasons with the Panthers.

Matt Willig, an Unrestricted Free Agent, probably will not be re-signed by the team either.

"With regard to Matt Willig, he's a player they love but they also realize that he's getting long in the tooth and they want somebody younger, which we understand," agent Ken Kremer said. "They will probably take a look at younger players and if something doesn't work out then they will try to reacquire Matt."

Willig is 36 years of age and had a less-than-average year in 2004. The Panthers have already signed T Dave Kadela, who is much younger and more adept at run and pass blocking.

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