The Panthers released veteran offensive lineman Travelle Wharton today in a move that cleared more than $3.8 million in cap space.
Wharton, a third-round draft choice from South Carolina in 2004, started 99 games in eight seasons with the Panthers, including all 16 games last year at left guard.
But Wharton, 30, was set to make $5.7 million in base salary this year, with a cap figure of $7.6 million.
The Panthers instead chose to re-sign veteran guard Geoff Hangartner to a three-year contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although Hangartner made $1 million last year and likely will not approach Wharton’s salary number in his new deal.
“It was an extremely difficult decision on Travelle,” Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said in a release.
“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.”
The June 1 designation will allow the Panthers to spread out the $3.7 million cap hit over the next two years.
The Panthers also declined to tender restricted free agent guard Geoff Schwartz and let fifth-year guard Mackenzy Bernadeau become a free agent. Those moves leave the Panthers with three guards on the roster – Hangartner, Zack Williams and Bryant Browning – although Garry Williams and Byron Bell can play guard and tackle.