Stewart, who turns 31 next month, has spent his entire 10-season career with Carolina and had one year remaining on his contract with a salary cap figure of $5.2million. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton set a career high in rushing attempts while Stewart gained his fewest total yards since his injury-filled 2013. He picked up just 172 yards in his last six regular-season games.
However, Stewart saw a substantial dip in his numbers last season.
Stewart became Carolina's all-time leading rusher, passing DeAngelo Williams, in a Week 4 victory at New England.
Williams was released by former general manager Dave Gettleman after the 2014 season.
As such, coach Ron Rivera and the Panthers are focusing in on the running backs, who will go through their drills at the NFL Scouting Combine on Friday.
The team selected running back Christian McCaffrey in the first round of last year's Draft. "We know how he wants the offense to look. We have to continue to work through the roles that he will play as well as the roles for all the other guys on the offense".
He leaves as Carolina's all-time leader in carries (1,699) and rushing yards (7,318). That's the longest active drought by a team in the National Football League, according to ESPN Stats & Information. I'm anxious to see that group because I think it's a dynamic group from top to bottom. "That's very important these days because so many of these quarterbacks get the ball out of their hands so quickly".