CHARLOTTE -- On a day when they lost one of their own backups, the Panthers finally interviewed a starter.
As defensive tackle Kindal Moorehead was agreeing to a two-year deal with Atlanta, the Panthers were visiting with Cincinnati linebacker Landon Johnson.
Johnson has started at all three linebacker spots for the Bengals, and has led the team in tackles three of his four seasons. He'll turn 27 next week, keeping him in line with the Panthers' preference of finding younger free agents.
A former third-round pick out of Purdue (taken two spots after Carolina chose tackle Travelle Wharton in 2004), Johnson met with Panthers coaches and officials Thursday at Bank of America Stadium. While his agent has maintained a dialogue with the Bengals, he's also had discussions with other teams. Thursday's visit, however, was his first.
"We're trying to get it narrowed down right now," agent Andy Simms said. "I would think we'd have a decision in the next day or so."
If he signed here, he'd likely compete with incumbent Na'il Diggs for the starting weakside job. His versatility, however, would give them a utility man they've lacked since Chris Draft left for St. Louis last year.
"I don't want to get too much into roles, but he'd be fine wherever they put him," Simms said. "Suffice it to say, there's interest from both sides of this one."
While they were working on shoring up that spot, another one got thinner still, with unrestricted free agent Moorehead leaving after five years. The team's fifth-round pick in 2003 had played valuable roles on the defensive line (occasionally lining up at defensive end in certain situations), and showed his athleticism by logging four kickoff returns for 46 yards last year.
Moorehead, 29, had 138 tackles and 9.0 sacks in five seasons with the Panthers.
He went to Atlanta on Thursday afternoon to take a physical, having already agreed on the financial portion of the deal. The two-year contract is expected to be finalized as soon as today.
The Panthers now have just three guys at that position -- starters Damione Lewis and Maake Kemoeatu and former practice squader Gary Gibson. They've had Rod Coleman and Ian Scott in for visits, but haven't gotten past that point with either. Coleman's not believed to be physically ready to play, raising doubts about his condition since he left the needy Panthers and the salary-cap-rich Tampa Bay Buccaneers without a deal.
"We're looking to upgrade every position, and we're looking at every avenue we have available," Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said when asked about the need at defensive tackle, employing his new favorite offseason cliché.
• EXTRA POINTS: Restricted free agent linebacker Adam Seward visited New England on Thursday, but there was no word at press time as to whether they offered him a contract. If they did, the Panthers would have seven days to match, or receive a fifth-round pick as compensation if they chose not to.
His agent, Michael Hoffman, didn't return phone messages Thursday. ...
Wide receiver Drew Carter, who the Panthers have shown no interest in retaining, visited Tennessee on Thursday. He was there at the same time the Titans were taking a look at former Panthers cornerback Terry Cousin, who was displaced in Jacksonville when the Jaguars signed Drayton Florence.