'Spoon wants to be back in Carolina

Linebacker Will Witherspoon, the team's leading tackler this season, remains optimistic he will re-sign with the Panthers in the off-season. He's due to become an unrestricted free agent in March. Carolina's other unrestricted free agents include running back DeShaun Foster, center Jeff Mitchell and guard Tutan Reyes.

Witherspoon knows the Panthers won't be able to re-sign everyone, but when asked if he thinks a deal will eventually get done, he said, "I do."

Said Witherspoon: "You've got to have faith in it. Worst-case scenario if it doesn't, so be it. Hopefully that's not the case. We've got nothing but the entire off-season to look forward to and to figure it all out."

Witherspoon's best friend on the team, middle linebacker Dan Morgan, received a five-year, $25 million contract extension during training camp.

After Witherspoon was unable to reach a long-term deal in the summer, he asked the team not to worry about contract talks until after the season.

"Part of it is I really didn't want to deal with anything while we were playing," he said. "I don't need anything extra except to go out there and play on Sunday."

Witherspoon declined to say the deal has been frustrating, and added that in no way does he feel disrespected by the organization.

"It's something you've got to go through," Witherspoon said. "We kind of know what the situation is. We have to see if they really feel like they need to make moves. There's no need to make a big fuss about it. That's not going to change anything."

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