CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers announced they released linebacker James Anderson, a three-year starter, on Tuesday.
Anderson had three years left on a five-year, $22 million contract that included a $7 million signing bonus.
A veteran of seven NFL seasons, all with the Panthers, Anderson started the first 12 games of the 2012 season before missing the final four with a back injury. His 84 tackles ranked second on the team.
In 2011, Anderson set a then-franchise record with 174 tackles.
"I would like to thank James for what he has meant not only to our organization but also to this community," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "James went about his business in a professional manner and did everything we asked. We wish him the best."
Anderson was a third-round draft choice (88th overall) in the 2006 NFL Draft from Virginia Tech and played 94 games for the Panthers, the most by a linebacker in team history.
Anderson started 53 of his 94 career regular season games and also saw action in one post-season contest. He has career totals of 523 tackles, eight sacks, three interceptions, four forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries.
The Panthers have also re-signed backup tight end Ben Hartsock, according to his agent Mike McCarthy.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Hartsock is the second free agent to re-sign, joining linebacker Jordan Senn.