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Greg Olsen, Panthers mutually agree to part ways

Another era has found its conclusion for the Panthers.

Longtime tight end standout Greg Olsen and the Panthers have agreed to mutually part ways, the team announced Thursday. The team's statement came with a lengthy statement from Olsen, as well.

Olsen, who was under contract with the team through 2020, stated he still has "love of football" and did not announce future plans.

The 34-year-old three-time Pro Bowler played his ninth season for the Panthers in 2019 following four years to begin his career with the Bears.

Not until after the Super Bowl can the Panthers officially release Olsen, but the announcement signals that formality is forthcoming, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. Olsen's contract would have cost $11.6 million against the Panthers cap in 2020.

Olsen's departure is the latest monumental change for Carolina, which dismissed longtime coach Ron Rivera during the season and replaced him with Matt Rhule. All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly surprisingly announced his retirement this offseason and quarterback Cam Newton, the face of the franchise, is entering the final season of his current contract with his future in doubt.

Though the monumental Newton decision -- as to whether he'll stay with Carolina or move on -- remains, Olsen's departure looks to lean toward a significant rebuild for the franchise and would also seem to lean to Newton donning another uniform for the first time in 2020.

While the Panthers move on, Olsen's future remains unclear.

Having received stellar reviews for past commentating spots, Olsen would have many suitors in the broadcasting world , but is also said to be interested in playing next season if the right opportunity is there, Rapoport reported.

Through the Panthers' greatest seasons, Olsen was a standard of spectacular consistency, seemingly always finding open space and Newton seemingly always finding him.

The tight end's three Pro Bowls came consecutively from 2014-2016 with Olsen tallying 1,000-plus yards receiving in each of those three campaigns. Since then, Olsen has been riddled by injuries over his previous three campaigns.

For his career, Olsen has 718 catches for 8,444 yards and 59 touchdowns -- 524 of those catches, 6,463 of those yards and 39 of those touchdowns came as a Panther.

A first-round draft pick out of Miami in 2007 with the Bears, Olsen looked outstanding at times, but misused for the majority of his days in Chicago.

Then he joined the Panthers and the best of times commenced, marked by Carolina's sterling 15-1 2015 season that concluded with a 2015 Super Bowl berth as Olsen became one of the NFL's premier tight ends.

On Thursday, the Panthers and Olsen announced they're parting ways, Carolina moving further into rebuild mode and the franchise's greatest tight end carrying on into the great unknown for now.

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