"Consistency is the word that comes to mind when I think about Greg," Panthers owner David Tepper said in a statement. "A leader, great teammate, unbelievable family man and true professional. Greg brought passion and an intense, detailed work ethic to the stadium every day.
"As the 'Jersey' guy on the team, it was good to get to know Greg over the past two years and he will be remembered as one of the best Panthers to ever play here. Greg and Kara's work in the community continues to positively impact so many families in our city and the Carolinas."
In a statement released on social media Thursday, Olsen, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, said he's still interested in playing in the National Football League.
"At this time I have not closed the door on any potential career options," Olsen wrote on Twitter. "I still have the love of football in my heart and will explore all opportunities presented to me."
The decision to move on from the Panthers was made after Olsen spoke with general manager Marty Hurney about his future with the franchise.
"The team and I are both on the same page that it is best we go in different directions for now," Olsen said. "On the field, I will always cherish the nine seasons we shared together. The wins, the losses, standing at midfield holding the Halas Trophy as NFC champs. The reality of going to the Super Bowl was beyond words, as was the disappointment of falling short."
The Chicago Bears selected Olsen in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Hurney acquired him for a third-round draft pick in a 2011 trade with the Bears.
Olsen had 52 catches for 597 yards and two touchdowns this season. Since entering the league in 2007, he has tallied 718 receptions for 8,444 yards and 59 touchdowns with the Panthers and Bears.
Olsen became the first tight end in NFL history to record 1,000 receiving yards in three consecutive seasons (2014-16). He holds the franchise record for most receiving yards (1,104 in 2015) and receptions (84 in 2014) in a single season by a Panthers tight end.