Not exactly a surprise if you follow the Panthers, but still ESPN’s Pat Yasinskas offers up some pretty sobering numbers: The Panthers currently have about $136 million committed against next year’s salary cap, which is expect to be slightly over $120 million. The Panthers will care about $3.5 million in cap space over from this year but they’ll also have to sign this year’s crop of draft picks. Yasinskas notes that the Panther don’t have a lot of attractive options to get under the cap:
There simply aren’t a lot of easy escape routes for the Panthers.
I don’t know if former general manager Marty Hurney deserves all the blame or if he was acting on orders from above, but the contracts given to guys like DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Steve Smith, Jon Beason, James Anderson and Charles Godfrey in recent years have left the Panthers in a real salary-cap mess.
Whoever ends up as the new general manager is going to have his hands tied in a lot of ways, because most of those contracts include so much guaranteed in base salaries and so much pro-rated money that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to get out from under some of the team’s biggest contracts by releasing players.
The bottom line here is the Panthers are in a brutal spot. They’re not going to be able to do much of anything to improve themselves in free agency. They’re going to be subtracting from their roster, and the only viable way to add to it will be through the draft.
Yes, subtracting from a roster that went 7-9. Which is not very encouraging if you’re a Panthers fan.