Running back Jonathan Stewart was unceremoniously released by the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday morning after 10 seasons with the organization. Since being drafted 13th overall by the Panthers in 2008, Stewart has etched his name all over their record books as the team’s all-time leader in rushing yards, attempts and second in touchdowns.
Stewart turns 31 in March, averaged a career-low 3.4 yards per carry as the Carolina’s primary between-the-tackles rusher last season and carried a $5 million salary cap hit.
“Jonathan played the game the way you want. He brought an element of toughness as a runner that set the tempo for our team,” Panthers head coach Ron Rivera told Bill Voth of Panthers.com. “He is a great pro and I appreciate who he is as a young man and thank him for him for the contribution he made.”
Stewart’s release creates $3.71 million in cap space in 2018 and leaves a degree of uncertainty in the Panthers’ backfield. It remains to be seen if perimeter back Christian McCaffrey will settle into a feature role or be paired with a conventional north-south runner via the draft or free agency given that career backups, Fozzy Whitaker and Cameron Artis-Payne are the only other backs currently on the Panthers roster.
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