After deciding to cut quarterback Jake Delhomme and defensive tackle Damione Lewis earlier Thursday, the Panthers also said farewell to defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu in the evening.
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Kemoeatu's agent, Ken Vierra, said early Friday that he was informed around 8 p.m. Thursday that the team had decided to release Kemoeatu, primarly for financial reasons.
Vierra said Kemoeatu was scheduled to receive a roster bonus of around $1.7 million on March 15 and would have earned a base salary of $2.6 million in 2010.
Kemoeatu has been rehabilitating his torn Achilles tendon, which was surgically repaired last summer and needed followup surgeries to address complications that arose after the original operation.
Vierra said Kemoeatu would continue to rehabilitate in Charlotte as he looks to continue his NFL career elsewhere. Vierra said he expected Kemoeatu to be ready for training camp next summer.
Kemoeatu's injury occurred within the first 30 minutes of the Panthers' opening training camp last year, ending his season and beginning the team's season-long attempt to fill defensive tackle vacancies created by injuries.
Though Kemoeatu wasn't healed yet, Vierra said he thinks the Panthers' decision to release Kemoeatu was most financialy driven and in keeping with what teams around the league are doing in the new uncapped season -- releasing higher priced veterans to save money.
"It’s what I believe you’re seeing around the league," said Vierra. "Owners are taking the opportunity to save tens and twenties of millions of dollars in 2010."
With Kemoeatu and Lewis, experienced veteran starters, cut in the same day, the Panthers now have an extremely young group of defensive tackles, including restricted free agents Louis Leonard and Tank Tyler, recent signee Ed Johnson, 2009 third-round draft pick Corvey Irvin and Nick Hayden.
-- Charles Chandler