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NFL free agency: Carolina Panthers’ Mike Mitchell, Ted Ginn Jr. on market after big seasons

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/03/08/21/12/ivraW.Em.138.jpeg|204
    Jeff Siner - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
    Carolina Panthers safety Mike Mitchell brought attitude and physicality to the secondary after signing a one-year deal with the team before the 2013 season.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/03/08/21/12/NRHxw.Em.138.jpeg|191
    David T. Foster, III - dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com
    Ted Ginn Jr. (19) added to the Carolina Panthers’ return game and was also productive at wide receiver in 2013.

More Information

  • NFL free agency: 10 players who could help Panthers
  • NFL free agency primer
  • NFL draft: UGA QB Murray hopes to shake off rust by Pro Day
  • Panthers Free Agents

    Status settled (3)

    DE Greg Hardy: Signed franchise tender March 4 (1 year, $13.1 million guaranteed)

    K Graham Gano: Re-signed Feb. 28 (4 years, $12.4 million, $4 million guaranteed)

    OL Jordan Gross: Retired Feb. 26

    Unrestricted free agents (18)

    WR Domenik Hixon

    WR Brandon LaFell

    WR Ted Ginn Jr.

    QB Derek Anderson

    QB Jimmy Clausen

    TE Ben Hartsock

    OL Geoff Hangartner

    OL Travelle Wharton

    OL Garry Williams

    OL Bruce Campbell

    DT Colin Cole

    LB Jordan Senn

    LB Jason Williams

    LB Dan Connor

    S Quintin Mikell

    S Mike Mitchell

    CB Captain Munnerlyn

    CB Drayton Florence

    Restricted free agents (3)

    TE Richie Brockel

    CB James Dockery

    OL Byron Bell



Carolina Panthers free safety Mike Mitchell and wide receiver Ted Ginn – the team’s top priorities among their own free agents – are expected to hit the open market Tuesday when the free agency signing period begins.

Mitchell and Ginn signed one-year deals with the Panthers last offseason and played big roles in the 12-win season that produced the Panthers’ first playoff appearance in five years.

Both players are looking to cash in on their success from 2013, but the Panthers’ salary cap situation could hinder their ability to re-sign them to long-term deals.

After defensive end Greg Hardy signed a $13.1 million franchise tender this week, the Panthers are about $7 million below the $133 million cap. Teams have to be below the cap when the league year begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Mitchell, 26, was a backup in Oakland who flourished as a starter with the Panthers. He brought a physical presence to the back end of the league’s second-ranked defense, and his four interceptions tied middle linebacker Luke Kuechly for the team lead.

Mitchell is expected to draw interest from several teams during the league’s three-day negotiating window, which began at noon Saturday. The Falcons, who reportedly plan to release safety Thomas DeCoud, could be among the suitors for Mitchell.

The Panthers have a fall-back option on their roster in safety Charles Godfrey, who missed most of last season after rupturing his Achilles in Week 2. Godfrey was thought to be a potential salary cap casualty, but the Panthers could try to restructure his deal if it looks like they can’t re-sign Mitchell.

Ginn, 28, had a career resurgence last season after a couple of forgettable years in San Francisco. Ginn, Miami’s first-round pick in 2007, posted career highs with five touchdown catches and a 15.4 yards-per-catch average as Cam Newton’s favorite deep target.

Ginn also gave the Panthers a big-play threat in their return game, which is among the reasons the Panthers view him as a priority.

The Panthers have 18 remaining free agents, several of whom they would like to bring back on a short, team-friendly deals. That list includes starting cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, No. 2 tight end Ben Hartsock and backup quarterback Derek Anderson.

Munnerlyn, who returned to the Panthers on a one-year deal last season, told the Observer last month he thought he had one of his best years in 2013 and thought it was “shocking” the team had not contacted him about an extension.

Four of the Panthers’ top defensive backs from last season eligible for free agency: Mitchell, Munnerlyn, cornerback Drayton Florence and strong safety Quintin Mikell.

Florence and Mikell are both 33 and are not considered priorities for the Panthers.

Person: 704-358-5123; Twitter: @josephperson
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