February 24, 2015

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Panthers will be in the market for someone to protect Cam Newton's blind side this offseason.

The team has informed last season's starting left tackle Byron Bell that he will not be re-signed, a person familiar with the situation said Tuesday. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no announcement has been made.

Bell is set to become an unrestricted free agent in March.

He has started 56 games in the past four seasons for the Panthers, including 15 in 2014 in his first season at left tackle following the retirement of Jordan Gross. Prior to that, Bell had been the team's starting right tackle.

Pro Football Focus had Bell ranked as the second-worst left tackle in the league last season, allowing 11 sacks.

Bell wrote Monday night on his Instagram page: ''It's been real in Carolina now time to see where the Lord takes me next! Can't be mad. 4 years would love more but hey it is what it is. I guess just got to keep pushing the Lord's work and growing.''

The Panthers don't have an obvious replacement for Bell on the roster heading into the offseason.

They have the 25th pick in the NFL draft and could look there to fill the void.

General manager Dave Gettleman said earlier this offseason the Panthers have more to spend in free agency than the previous two seasons, but cautioned, ''We're not going to Tiffany's, I can tell you that.''

Gettleman was non-committal on Bell's future when speaking to reporters at the NFL Scouting Combines in Indianapolis last week.

Bell's announcement on Instagram comes after running back DeAngelo Williams made a similar announcement on Monday to Charlotte television station WBTV that the team would be releasing him this offseason.

Bell made $2.18 million last season for the Panthers.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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