CHARLOTTE -- Friday's deadline for restricted free agent linebacker Adam Seward to sign an offer sheet passed without action, but that still doesn't mean he's staying with the Carolina Panthers this year.
Even though he's ostensibly the top backup to middle linebacker Jon Beason and one of the team's better special teams players, there's no guarantee Seward's going to make the roster. And because there's a chance he could be filler for a draft-day trade, he's holding off signing his one-year, $927,000 tender.
Seward's agent, Michael Hoffman, said the fourth-year linebacker would wait to sign his contract after the draft. Since teams can only trade players under contract, Seward could conceivably stall a deal if the Panthers wanted to move him.
"It's not that he'd hold anything up, he wouldn't be against a trade, but this gives us a little bit of control over our situation," Hoffman said.
The Patriots, owners of the seventh overall pick, are open to trading down in the draft. The Panthers might want to move up to acquire a player, and if New England's the target, Seward could be used as a sweetener.
The Panthers are well-stocked at linebacker with or without Seward. They signed Cincinnati's Landon Johnson to compete for the starting weakside job with Na'il Diggs. If Johnson starts, he'd team with Beason and Thomas Davis in one of the fastest linebacking corps around.
The Panthers have solid depth as well. Along with special teamers such as Donte Curry, Tim Shaw and Brandon Jamison, the Panthers have 2006 third-rounder James Anderson, who suddenly appears to be on the bubble to make the roster.
It's unlikely they'd cut Seward unless Shaw emerges as a viable backup to Beason. Anderson proved in a brief audition last year that's not a job he can fill, and while Curry has played some in the middle with Detroit, he's better outside, if at all on defense.
Either way, Seward will be an unrestricted free agent next year, and has shown little indication that he wants to stay long-term.