Fifth-year running back Jonathan Stewart has told reporters that he is open to returning to the Carolina Panthers after this season. Heading into the final year of his rookie contract, Stewart finds himself on one of the deepest rosters of running backs in the NFL. Stewart is behind DeAngelo Williams on the depth chart and the Panthers signed free agent RB Mike Tolbert this offseason as well.
“I definitely hope things work out. I want to be back. I think we have a lot of weapons on offense and we can be a dangerous team,” Stewart told The Associated Press. Stewart has been a very productive back in his career with the Panthers, splitting time with Williams. The trio of Williams, Stewart and QB Cam Newton accounted for the third best rushing attack in the NFL last season, averaging 150 yards per game.
The problem facing Stewart’s return to Carolina is the fact that the franchise signed Williams last season to an exceptionally rich contract, five years, $43 million dollars. RB Mike Tolbert was signed to a four-year $8.4 million dollar deal. The Panthers would likely love to retain Stewart moving forward, but it’s highly unlikely given the money they currently have invested at the running back position.