Jonathan Stewart was cut by the Carolina Panthers Wednesday, as reported by NFL.com. He is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher from his decade with the team.
It’s always sad when you see someone who has been with a team for so long and has been so productive get released. Stewart was a consistent force with the Panthers and never averaged less than eight carries a game for them. They are moving on from him because of concerns about his durability, age and they believe Christian McCaffrey can take over.
Stewart has been in the news in the Northwest since he was a star running back at Timberline High School in Washington. He chose to leave his home state to go to college in Eugene, OR and play for the Ducks. Washingtonians felt he should have stayed in state for college, but Duck fans are grateful he joined their team for three years before entering the NFL Draft. Stewart was picked 13th overall by the Panthers after scoring 31 touchdowns in his career for Oregon. He was a big back with great speed and wiggle. This helped him flourish in the NFL for many years.
Stewart passed DeAngelo Williams (who he shared the backfield with for much of his career) in 2017 for first place on the Panthers’ all-time leading rusher list. Stewart ends his Panther career with 7,318 yards rushing and 51 rushing touchdowns. He is currently also fourth on the Panthers’ all-time scoring list, behind John Kasay, Graham Gano (both kickers) and Steve Smith (a wide receiver).
I believe Stewart will find a new team before too long because he can still be a productive part of a backfield. He is a 240-pound barrel of consistency that could be a short yardage back for a number of teams. While he might not be the gamebreaker he was earlier in his career, he can still help a team in need of a veteran running back.