Stewart, who will turn 31 on March 21, was cut by the Carolina Panthers on Feb. 28 and is coming off one of his worst seasons statistically behind an offensive line regarded by general manager Marty Hurney as one of the top five in the league.
Stewart averaged a career-low 3.4 yards per carry (680 yards on 198 carries) during the 2017 season, and his total yards were his fewest since 2013, when he was limited by injuries.
His yards per carry ranked 32nd among the 34 running backs who had at least 150 carries last season, ahead of only Adrian Peterson and Ameer Abdullah, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Stewart’s 3.55 yards per touch last season were the fewest by a running back with at least 200 touches in a season since BenJarvus Green-Ellis (3.47) and Rashard Mendenhall (3.49) in 2013.
Stewart, who is the Panthers’ all-time leading rusher with 7,318 yards, recently said he could still be a productive back, but the Panthers are trying to get more touches for 2017 first-round pick Christian McCaffrey and opted to move on, clearing $3.7 million for the team’s salary cap.
Stewart was drafted by the Panthers in the first round of the 2008 draft. In 10 seasons with the team, he averaged 4.3 yards per carry and scored 51 rushing touchdowns, while catching 162 passes for 1,295 yards and 7 TDs. He and DeAngelo Williams broke the 1,000-yard rushing barrier in 2009, and the Panthers haven’t done it since – the longest active drought by a team in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information.