Marty Hurney made a lot of bad decisions in his service with the Carolina Panthers. Granted, he made a few good ones as well, one being last year’s draft which panned out very well for the team, and of course he did lead us to a two NFC Championships as well as a Super Bowl. However, his blunders seem to outweigh all the good deeds he has done over the years. His Armanti Edwards pick up, the way he handled John Fox, and of course the predicament the Panthers seem to find themselves in currently, no cap room.
Yes the Panther’s very own “fiscal cliff” seems to be the biggest issue facing the team. Not the problems with the secondary, or the age of our defensive line, or even the age gap in the offensive line. No, the biggest issue facing the Carolina Panthers, and more importantly, Dave Gettleman is the fact that the Panthers just don’t have money to spend anywhere.
The NFL projected a league wide salary cap of 120 million dollars. The Panthers have 136 million dollars tied up in previously made contracts for the 2013 season. It doesn’t take a math major to figure out that the two numbers don’t exactly match up. So expect to see more faces leaving the Panthers locker room instead of coming in.
So to reach the cap limit, the Panthers are going to have to trim the fat so to speak. According to Steve Reed with The Associated Press, “When Gettleman begins breaking down the numbers he’ll find a Carolina team that has $63.25 million in salary cap space committed to six players – defensive end Charles Johnson ($13 million), Gross ($11.7 million), Gamble ($10.9 million), center Ryan Kalil ($9.95 million), Beason ($9.5 million), and Williams ($8.2 million). Quarterback Cam Newton ($6 million), receiver Steve Smith ($5.75 million) and tight end Greg Olsen ($5.7 million) account for an additional $17.5 million in cap space.”
“So essentially two-thirds, or $80 million of the team’s salary cap is slated to go to nine players.”
That’s quite a lot of money tied up in nine players, granted some of those players are key players, who contribute a lot to the Panthers as a team, but some of those contract deals were unneeded. The contracts that stand out to me as unneeded are those of Chris Gamble, Jon Beason, and DeAngelo Williams. All three players have been sidelined for the majority of the season, Gamble and Beason for injuries and Williams was just flat out replaced about three games into the season.
Beason and Gamble have lost a ton of cache with the coaching staff and fans. Both players were replaced by rookie players this season after they suffered season ending injuries. Kuechly performed past all of my expectations with a fantastic rookie season. Gamble was replaced by rookie Josh Norman, who took over his spot as the Panthers number one cornerback. I wouldn’t say that Josh played better than Gamble, but he made a pretty good case for the position.
Out of the two players, Beason is more likely to stay. It has been said in the past that he is a fast learner, and is willing to take over James Andersons spot as an Outside Linebacker, leaving our starting Linebacker Unit with three great, proven players, Davis, Kuechly, and Beason. Gamble doesn’t have much of a reason to stay with the Panthers. I expect him to become a free agent, since he is in the last year of his contract, and our secondary has been taken completely over by young players. I project the starters to be Josh Thomas and Josh Norman taking the cornerback positions, and D.J. Campbell and Sherrod Martin in the safety positions, and maybe a rookie could be put into that mix-up, who knows. However all four of those players have eight years of experience between them, while Gamble has ten years by himself. His time as a Panther is more than likely done.
Now Williams is in an interesting position. He played his best football of his career at the end of the season, which is exactly the opposite of the numbers he put up at the beginning of the year. The Panthers do have two very competent players with him in the backfield alongside of Williams, Stewart and Tolbert. Either way I wouldn’t mind seeing him stay. The fans love him, he has one of the best-selling Panther’s jerseys in history, but he might leave because we have a lot of money tied up in his contract. Either way, his position with the team is very interesting. Only time will tell what the future has in store for DeAngelo Williams.
Dave Gettleman is up to the challenge, and I have faith in him. I watched his press conference, and if first impressions were any indication of how he will pan out for the Panthers franchise, he will do just fine. This draft will be his litmus test for the young GM and I trust him implicitly!