Panthers cut LB Anderson, re-sign TE Hartsock

The Carolina Panthers were busy during the first day of the NFL's free agency period on Tuesday.

The team released starting linebacker James Anderson and re-signing tight end Ben Hartsock.

Anderson had spent his entire NFL career with the Panthers after being drafted in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft by Carolina.

"I would like to thank James for what he has meant not only to our organization, but also to this community," said Panthers head coach Ron Rivera in a statement on the team's website. "James went about his business in a professional manner and did everything we asked. We wish him the best."

After recording a career-high 145 tackles in 2011, Anderson was rewarded for his play by signing a five-year, $22 million contract extension two seasons ago.

In 12 games this past season, Anderson recorded 73 tackles (34 assisted) and two pass deflections, but was hindered most of the year with a lower back injury.

The 29-year-old Anderson was due to make $2.9 million this season.

Anderson will likely be marked as a June 1 release, meaning the Panthers will free up about $3 million in salary cap space.

Hartsock, 32, has spent the past two seasons with the Panthers, playing in 30 games. He started five games this past season, catching two passes for 30 yards.

During his eight-year NFL career, Hartsock has also spent time with Colts (2004-05), Titans (2006-07), Falcons (2008) and Jets (2009-10).

The re-signing of Hartsock brings the number of Panthers brought back from free agency to three. Carolina inked linebacker Jordan Senn and tight end/fullback Richie Brockel to contracts on Monday.