Jordan Gross announced his retirement this week and the left tackle may not be the only member of the Panthers’ offensive line to decide it is time for other pursuits.
Travelle Wharton, who started 12 games next to Gross at left guard last season, commuted with Gross during their years together in Carolina and said Wednesday that he’s also contemplating drawing the curtain on his NFL career. Wharton is set to be a free agent and said he’d like to return to the Panthers if he decides to continue his career in the 2014 season.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do at this point. Still trying to figure it out,” Wharton said, via Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. “Really taking inventory on my body, my mind, and just making sure it’s the right deal for me.”
Wharton was a third-round pick of the Panthers in 2004 and returned to the team last year after spending a year on injured reserve with the Bengals after injuring his knee in the first game of the 2012 preseason. He’s played 115 games with Carolina over the years, starting 111 of them.
If Wharton also leaves, the Panthers will have a lot of work to do on their offensive line this offseason. Put aside defensive end Greg Hardy’s pending free agency and simmering issues with wide receiver Steve Smith, that makes for a nice-sized to-do list for General Manager Dave Gettleman.