General manager Dave Gettleman is at it again! After already re-working Thomas Davis’ contract to add cap space, Gettleman negotiated restructured deals with Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil and running back Jonathan Stewart. The Carolina Panthers trimmed Kalil’s 2014 base salary from $4.75 million to $855,000, converting the rest into a signing bonus. By doing this, Kalil’s 2014 cap hit drops from $10.4 million to $7.3 million. Stewart’s 2014 base salary moves from $1.5 million to $785,000.
All in all, Gettleman has created roughly $7.5 million in cap space for the Panthers with these moves. He could add to that number if he can convince defensive end Charles Johnson, who has a team-high $16.4 million cap hit, to take a restructured deal as well. Carolina is now $29 million under the projected $132 million salary cap, which isn’t much when you consider how many free agents they have. Combined with the fat contract Cam Newton is set to get this offseason, it will still be a challenge to sign high-priced defensive end Greg Hardy this offseason.
If the Panthers are going to sign Hardy, they have a few options:
-Use their franchise tag on him, which would put Carolina in the same position next offseason
-Sign him to a contract with a low base salary in 2014, which would require a high signing bonus and limit future flexibility
-Sign Cam Newton to a contract with a low base salary in 2014 and use the savings towards Hardy, which would create similar problems
This is something that we’ll keep track of and go more in-depth with as we move along in the offseason so keep checking back with cover32 for updates.