Darin Gantt of the Charlotte Observer is reporting this morning that the Carolina Panthers are set to tender restricted free agent offers to soon-to-be free agents DeAngelo Williams (running back) and Charles Johnson (defensive end).
Under current league rules for the uncapped year - rules that will expire along with the CBA on March 4 - players with less than six years of experience are restricted free agents. Williams, a first-round pick in 2006, has five years of experience, while Johnson, a third-round pick the following year, has four.
If and when a new CBA is agreed upon, Carolina's tenders to these two players will likely become moot, as it's expected that the new CBA will restore capped-year free agency rules, in which players with four or more years of experience are unrestricted free agents. In the meantime, this decision by the Panthers protects them in the event that league rules don't change under the new agreement. As Mike Florio points out, the NFL will push for uncapped free agency rules to remain, either to restrict player movement, or to force a negotiation concession from the NFLPA.
We bring this up here for just one reason: the Buffalo Bills have two prominent free agents (strong safety Donte Whitner and inside linebacker Paul Posluszny) that are eligible for the same action if and when other NFL teams begin to follow Carolina's lead.