Panthers release DT Lewis

CHARLOTTE — In a somewhat surprising move the Carolina Panthers released veteran Damione Lewis, their most reliable defensive tackle last season, on the eve of the start of free agency Thursday.

When asked if he was surprised, Lewis said, “Not really. My cap number was a little high -- about $5 million -- so anything can happen in that situation. I know the business. With all of this stuff going on with the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) I tried to be realistic. But I thought it was possible.”

Lewis said he was informed by Coach John Fox on Thursday night.

"He told me it was more of an economic deal and not a reflection on the way I played," Lewis saida.

Lewis' contract was to run through 2014 but it was going to revert to his original terms after the Panthers declined a $3.3 million bonus that was set up to help them with last year's salary cap. At that point, he would have been due $5 millionf or the season -- $4 in base salary and $1 million a roster bonus due in April.

With younger depth at the postition, the Pantehrs decided not to stay with Lewis.

"I kind of figured I might be a victim in all of this," Lewis said.

Lewis said he felt like one of the reasons is due to his sack numbers dipping last season. Lewis had 11.5 sacks from 2006 to 2008, but managed just a half-sack last year, although his 21 quarterback pressure were second on the team behind Julius Peppers.

Click here to order Damione Lewis' proCane Rookie Card.

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