UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTSP Jason Baker. Baker was the throw-in in the trade that sent Todd Sauerbrun to Denver and he responded by being selected first alternate to the Pro Bowl. The Panthers have already begun negotiations to keep him and he should return if the deal is right.
S Idrees Bashir. Bashir played 10 snaps all season on defense, so that tells you what the Panthers think of him. It's only a matter of time before he's released.
T Todd Fordham. Spent his second season as Carolina's backup tackle in 2005 and didn't see much action. He's well-liked by offensive line coach Mike Maser, so he could be brought back at a low salary cap figure.
RB DeShaun Foster. Here's the big question for Carolina - Do you make Foster your franchise back even though he's finished three of the last four seasons on injured reserve? There are other options out there, so the Panthers could look elsewhere.
SS Marlon McCree. Started fifth on the depth chart at safety and wound up starting and playing well. Although he doesn't have great speed, he fits in well with this defense. Still, the Panthers aren't going to overpay in any way to keep him given their more pressing cap issues.
C Jeff Mitchell. Mitchell has been an NFL starter for eight seasons and the tread could be coming off his tires. He played hurt for much of last season. Still, he's the glue on the offensive line and the team likes his leadership, so he could return for a two- or three-year deal.
WR Ricky Proehl. Proehl is expected to decide soon whether or not he will return next season or retire. There's a chance the Panthers could make that decision for him.
DE Kemp Rasmussen. He played 59 snaps on defense last year, but remains a valuable player on special teams, so the Panthers would like him back.
G Tutan Reyes. Reyes did fine in his first season as a starter, but the belief is the Panthers could improve in this area, so if another team makes him a big offer, look for Carolina to let him go. Besides, they have last year's third-round draft pick, Evan Mathis, waiting in the wings to replace him.
QB Chris Weinke. He's likely to test the free agent market and will sign elsewhere if given an opportunity to start. If nobody offers him that chance, then the Panthers would love to have him back as the No. 2 man behind Jake Delhomme.
CB Dante Wesley. Wesley is hoping that another team might give him an opportunity to start or least play more. He's been used primarily as a fourth corner and on special teams.
LB Will Witherspoon. It's likely the Panthers consider re-signing Witherspoon more important than re-signing Foster. Witherspoon is the team's leading tackler over the last four seasons and could be just coming into his prime. A smart guy and a good locker room personality.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS:
S Colin Branch. Spent last year on IR after starting in 2005. A fourth-round pick in '03, Branch is likely to be given the low qualifying offer.
LB Vinny Ciurciu. An undrafted guy, the Panthers like him on special teams, but aren't likely to offer him more than the low tender.
CB Ricky Manning. Interesting decision here. Manning wants to be a starter again after being forced into a nickel role in '05. If the Panthers offer the low tender, another team might bite and give up a third-round pick to get him. Or they could secure him for another year as their nickel back with the first-round tender since nobody is likely to give up that for a short corner. Another thing to keep in mind: the Panthers could use Manning as trade bait.
DT Kindal Moorehead. Undersized backup, but Moorehead has made plays. Given he was a fifth-round pick, look for him to get the low tender or for the team to sign him to a two- or three-year deal.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS:
DT Jordan Carstens. Started 15 games and will be brought back next year, but not expected to start. Could sign a two-year deal which would take him through his unrestricted free agent season.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: None.