Schwartz declines Panthers' offer

The decision to not offer a tender to restricted free-agent offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz isn't the kind of thing that grabs many headlines. But it underscores where the Panthers are financially after doling out a load of big contracts to their own last offseason.

The decision to not offer a tender to restricted free-agent offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz isn't the kind of thing that grabs many headlines.

But it underscores where the Panthers are financially after doling out a load of big contracts to their own last offseason.

The Panthers offered Schwartz a deal worth less than the $1.26 million it would have cost to tender the former seventh-rounder, which he declined. While it's possible he could return, other teams will be interested in the versatile blocker, who's primarily a guard but can play right tackle. He started all 16 games in 2010, but missed last season because of surgery to repair a hip impingement that caused some back issues. He's cleared to play now, and the injury wasn't a part of the decision not to tender him.

That was just a financial call.

Having spent so heavily on deals for players such as DE Charles Johnson, C Ryan Kalil, RB DeAngelo Williams and LB Jon Beason last year, the Panthers have to run a little lean on backups.

So they're rolling the dice on signing Schwartz later at a lower number, or going with a cast of young players such as Garry Williams, Byron Bell, Zack Williams and Lee Ziemba to fill the backup roles, and possibly fill the starting right guard job if veteran free-agent Geoff Hangartner isn't retained.


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