Free Agency

Carolina Panthers release punter Jason Baker; Derek Anderson returning | CharlotteObserver.com

Carolina Panthers release punter Jason Baker; Derek Anderson returning | CharlotteObserver.com & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper.

The Carolina Panthers have released punter Jason Baker, who had a salary-cap figure of $2 million and was the NFL’s lowest-rated punter in net average in 2011.

The Panthers could replace Baker with a veteran or look for a punter late in the draft. Georgia’s Drew Butler could be a target.

General manager Marty Hurney says releasing Baker, who gave up three punt returns for touchdowns in 2011, was “a salary cap decision.”

Baker’s agent, Frank Murtha, said that was his understanding, as well.

“It was totally monetarily driven, that I’ve been assured by Marty,” Murtha said. “The performance, Jason did what the coaches game-planned and instructed him to do each and every game last year. The 40-yard, pop-it-up, rugby-type (kicks) were all per coaches’ instructions. It had zero to do with performance.

“If you look at the tapes and the other teams I’ve been in contact with the last 24 hours know what’s going on. They know Jason’s abilities. He followed coaches’ instructions.

The Panthers also have agreed to a one-year contract with quarterback Derek Anderson, an unrestricted free agent who had been released by the team Tuesday.

Anderson’s return, the question now is whether Panthers will keep quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who is due a $923,00 roster bonus in the next two weeks.

Clausen was the third-team quarterback in 2011 and was inactive for every game. The Panthers are also interested in a backup who can run same offense as Cam Newton. That player could come in the draft, possibly former N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson, who played lst season with Wisconsin.

Elsewhere, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Dallas Cowboys have reached an agreement with former Panthers guard Mackenzy Bernadeau, an unrestricted free agent.

 

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