Though running back Jonathan Stewart is now the third highest paid running back on Carolina’s roster — yet the best one on the football field — he’s been a diligent participant in offseason workouts. Theoretically, Stewart could be griping about his committee back role and $1.3 million salary entering a contract year. He’s taken a more honorable approach.
Stewart has watched while DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert signed lucrative, long-term deals to share the backfield. But he still wants to spend the rest of his career with the Panthers.
“I definitely hope things work out,” Stewart told Steve Reed of the Associated Press. “I want to be back. I think we have a lot of weapons on offense and we can be a dangerous team.”
Stewart was the subject of early-offseason trade rumors, but they didn’t amount to anything. The Panthers instead traded Mike Goodson, and Stewart will return as the better half of a one-two punch with Williams. Tolbert is expected to focus on fullback and special teams.
If Stewart doesn’t get the extension he desires in Carolina, he’ll be a hot commodity in 2013 unrestricted free agency. Per Reed, the Panthers “wanted to extend Stewart’s contract earlier this offseason,” and the organization “hasn’t given up hope.”