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Panthers agree to terms with Lewis, Hartwig

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 13, 2006) -- The Carolina Panthers agreed to terms with defensive tackle Damione Lewis as they look to bolster a defense that has already lost four starters.

The Panthers also agreed to terms with center Justin Hartwig, giving him a five-year contract worth $17 million to get him to leave the Tennessee Titans. He will replace free agent Jeff Mitchell, a four-year starter for Carolina.

Free agency has cost the Panthers linebacker Will Witherspoon (St. Louis Rams) and safety Marlon McCree (San Diego), while defensive tackle Brentson Buckner and linebacker Brandon Short were both released in salary cap moves.

So Carolina gave Lewis, a 2001 first round draft pick by the St. Louis Rams, a two-year deal. He becomes the second defensive tackle the team has signed -- Maake Kemoeatu, who spent the past four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, agreed to a five-year deal over the weekend.

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