The Carolina Panthers have released outside linebacker Justin Houston to give the four-time Pro Bowl selection a chance to sign with a playoff contender.

Houston, 34, has been on injured reserve with a hamstring injury since Nov. 4. In seven games for the Panthers (2-12) he had half a sack, three tackles for loss and two quarterback hits.

Houston has 111.5 career sacks in 12 seasons. He signed a one-year deal with Carolina in August primarily to play for then-head coach Frank Reich, who was fired after a 1-10 start.

The plan was for Houston to be a complementary player opposite two-time Pro Bowler Brian Burns in Carolina’s 3-4 scheme. That never materialized after Houston had a resurgent 2022 season for the Baltimore Ravens with 9.5 sacks.

Any team that wants to acquire Houston on waivers would owe him just $194K for the rest of this season, as his deal with Carolina was a minimum salary with a $4.835 million signing bonus.