CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers defensive end and soon-to-be free agent Greg Hardy will be allowed to sign a new contract even if he remains on the commissioner’s exempt list.

A league spokesman, Greg Aiello, said Thursday in an email, “There’s nothing to prevent a player on the Exempt list without a contract from signing a new one.”

NFL free agency begins Tuesday.

But Hardy’s playing status remains in limbo. He isn’t allowed to actually play until removed from the exempt list, which could prevent teams from going after him in free agency.

Hardy faces a possible suspension from the league even though his conviction on two counts of domestic violence was dismissed Feb. 9 following a successful appeal.

 Tight Greg Olsen signed a three-year contract extension that will keep him with the team through the 2018 season.

CARDINALS: Quarterback Carson Palmer said he has restructured his contract to help with the team’s salary-cap status with the aim of making a good team better come the free- agency period.

Palmer, recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL, said he “is doing great,” throwing the ball five days a week, and hopes to be ready for practices this summer.

49ERS: Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett signed a two-year contract that will keep him in the NFC West after playing all of his 10 NFL seasons with Arizona.

Dockett, 33, sat out all of 2014 with a knee injury suffered in training camp. He started every game for the Cardinals in 2013, finishing with 46 tackles and 4½ sacks. Now, he will play for promoted defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, named the head coach in January.

He visited with the 49ers earlier this week, choosing a new start after being released Friday by Arizona.

CHIEFS: Kansas City released veteran linebacker Joe Mays as it attempts to free up much-needed salary-cap space before the start of free agency next week.

The Chiefs saved about $3 million by parting with Mays, who started last season on injured reserve and wound up making just 16 tackles in eight games. Mays was expected to start alongside Derrick Johnson but never seemed to solidify his role.

The Chiefs have made modest savings by releasing Mays along with wide receivers Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins, and tight end Anthony Fasano.

DEMAURICE SMITH, the NFLPA executive director, said he expects there are “more than enough people” who will express some sort of disagreement with him when the union convenes in Hawaii for elections later this month.

At least a half-dozen candidates said they will challenge Smith, who was initially elected unanimously in 2009 and re-elected without opposition in 2012 after he guided the players through a lockout and into a new collective bargaining agreement with the NFL.

RAIDERS: Running back Maurice Jones-Drew announced his retirement and defensive end LaMarr Woodley was released by the team.

They were brought in last March as General Manager Reggie McKenzie targeted veterans to help rebuild the struggling organization. But many of those players failed to reach the Pro Bowl levels from their past and the Raiders won just three games last season.

DOLPHINS: Tackle Jason Fox signed a two-year contract to remain with Miami rather than become a free agent next week.

Fox is going into his fifth NFL season and his second with the Dolphins, and he has five career starts. He played in nine games last year and started the final two games.

BENGALS: Rey Maualuga agreed to a three-year deal, allowing Cincinnati to keep one of its top linebackers.

Cincinnati’s defense slipped to 22nd in the NFL last season, when Maualuga and linebacker Vontaze Burfict missed significant time because of injuries. After Maualuga returned after missing four games with a pulled hamstring, the run defense improved measurably.

TEXANS: Authorities said safety D.J. Swearinger drove off from a business without paying for nearly $20,0000 worth of customization work on his truck, though it could simply be a “misunderstanding.”

Harris County sheriff’s deputies were called Monday night to Espi Motor Sports after Swearinger left when the business didn’t provide Swearinger with an itemized list of the auto detailing services.

BILLS: A person familiar with negotiations said free safety Da’Norris Searcy will test free agency next week.

The sides haven’t had contract talks since Buffalo made Searcy an offer two weeks ago, the person said.