The Panthers are not expected to tender restricted free agents Philly Brown and Brenton Bersin, allowing the receivers to test the open market, according to league sources.
Carolina plans to tender starting left guard Andrew Norwell before Thursday’s deadline, a source said. Norwell has started 38 games – including all 16 last season – since the Panthers signed him out of Ohio State in 2014.
Brown and Norwell were Buckeyes teammates who signed with the Panthers as undrafted free agents. Brown has 22 starts in three seasons, including 11 during the Super Bowl season of 2015.
Brown was the Panthers’ leading receiver in Super Bowl 50, pulling down four catches for 80 yards before leaving the 24-10 loss to Denver with a concussion. But Brown’s production dipped last season, when he caught 27 passes for a career-low 276 yards. Brown’s one receiving touchdown and 10.2-yards-per-catch average also were career worsts.
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Bersin, a Charlotte native, originally signed with the Panthers in 2012 after going undrafted out of Wofford. He was cut that summer, then spent the following season on the Panthers’ practice squad.
He spent the past three seasons on the active roster, but was seldom used. Bersin was targeted only six times in 2016, with two catches for 17 yards.
Restricted free agents are players with three accrued seasons. Teams can place a one-year qualifying offer, or tender, on the player, who can still negotiate with other teams.
The original club can match any offer or be compensated if that player signs with another team. The compensation is based on the level of tender the RFA receives.
Any RFA who is not tendered before Thursday’s 4 p.m. deadline becomes an unrestricted free agent.
The Panthers placed a second-round tender worth $2.55 million on right tackle Mike Remmers last year, meaning any team that tried to acquire him would have owed the Panthers a second-round draft picks.
This year’s tenders have been set at $3.91 million for a first-round qualifying offer, $2.746 million for a second-round offer and $1.797 million for an original-round tender.
The Panthers had two other restricted free agents: Linebacker Ben Jacobs, who signed a two-year deal last month, and wide receiver LaRon Byrd, who spent all of 2016 on injured reserve after sustaining a concussion during a preseason game.