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Sources: Panthers' CB Marshall back on the field, status unknown

The Carolina Panthers opened their organized team activity season, and cornerback Richard Marshall was back.

The fourth-year cornerback was on the field Monday morning, according to a pair of team sources. The practice was closed to the media, a first during OTAs in coach John Fox's nine years here.

There's been no word of Marshall signing a contract, and messages left with his agent Drew Rosenhaus and general manager Marty Hurney weren't returned. He could have signed the injury protection letter which allows unsigned players to work out with the team without a contract. That's what most restricted free agents did near the beginning of offseason workouts, which Marshall previously had boycotted.

Marshall also stayed away from the mandatory minicamp this month, presumably upset over the lack of a new deal. He was tendered a one-year, $1.759 million contract as a restricted free agent.

Prior to a set of rules triggered by the uncapped year and pending end of the collective-bargaining agreement between the league and the players union, Marshall would have been an unrestricted free agent this offseason. That probably would have led to a substantial payout, as he likely would have been considered the second-best corner on the market behind Atlanta signee Dunta Robinson.

However, the large class of newly restricted free agents - which included Marshall and linebacker Thomas Davis, who has been here throughout - has little leverage with which to force teams to give them new long-term contracts. If they don't sign by June 15, teams can reduce the tender offers to 100 percent of last year's base salary, which in Marshall's case would be $583,000.

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