The former first-round draft pick of the Redskins had 84 receiving yards and a touchdown.
"It was a situation where there are other receivers ahead of him on the depth chart and it became fairly apparent to us that he would not be in our long-term plans," Carolina general manager Marty Hurney said Friday. "We felt like this was the right opportunity to give Rod a chance to catch on with another team."
Gardner failed to make an impact, despite the struggles of No. 2 wide receiver Keary Colbert and 37-year-old Ricky Proehl.
The Panthers signed fullback Casey Cramer from the practice squad.