The Carolina Panthers released veteran wideout Jason Avant on Tuesday, two days after Avant questioned the play-calling during the end of the Atlanta loss in an interview with the Observer.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the move had nothing to do with Avant's comments -- he said he wasn't aware of them -- but was done to give undrafted rookie Philly Brown a chance at more playing time.
Rivera also announced starting right tackle Nate Chandler will undergo season-ending surgery on his right knee and will be placed on injured reserve.
Rivera said Avant was surprised by the move.
"In all fairness to him, it has nothing to do with what he didn’t do or did or anything like that. This had everything to do with what we see in Philly and the potential in him," Rivera said.
"When you have veteran guys who play a lot in front of younger guys that have potential, sometimes you stunt their growth. This is something we felt we needed to do to give Philly an opportunity to be on the field more."
Avant, who signed a 1-year, $1.05 million deal with the Panthers during the offseason, had struggled to get separation from defensive backs in recent weeks.
He caught 21 passes for 201 yards with one touchdown for the Panthers. His 9.6 yards-per-catch average is a career low.
Brown, who went undrafted out of Ohio State, had a 47-yard touchdown catch against the Falcons -- the second-longest reception of the season for the Panthers.
In an interview with the Observer, Avant said the Panthers should have been "a little bit more aggressive" after driving to the Atlanta 32 in the final two minutes.
The Panthers called three consecutive running plays -- gaining 4 yards -- before Graham Gano missed a 46-yard field goal with 1:22 remaining.
“I’ve been in the league a long time. I know two things. You never want to give a team a chance to win a game, with how much time was left on the clock. And asking a kicker to make a 50-yard field goal with the game on the line is rough sledding,” Avant said.
“If that’s the only option, yes. But if it’s not, you want to get as close as you can and think score and play to score a touchdown. Because I’d rather the team have to score a touchdown to win the game than to have to kick a field goal. It’s just a lot different. It’s a 30-yard difference.”