December 18, 2011; Houston, TX, USA; Carolina Panthers cornerback Chris Gamble (20) warms up before a game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Time Keeps on Ticking For Panthers Free Agents as March 12 Deadline Looms

Carolina Panthers General Manager David Gettleman has been pretty quiet in his tenure thus far, signing one obscure free agent DT (Colin Cole) while letting a grizzled veteran go (Ron Edwards). He knows he has to turn over this roster as much as he can in as short a time as he can…so what gives?

There’s no reason to rush anything. The deadline is still five days away and although some teams have made major cuts already with their squads, the Panthers have not.

What this points to is that Gettleman is more concerned with in-house issues and the salary cap for this year and future years more than he is with signing free agents at this point. They’ve restructured TE Greg Olson’s contract in order to get that much more cap-friendly, but the truth is that they won’t have much money to go after a star to fill a hole this year.

Gettleman himself has said as much. The Panthers simply aren’t interested in high-priced free agents. Numerous high-priced free agents have ruined teams in the past – DT Albert Haynesworth in Washington and WR Brandon Marshall in Miami, and Terrell Owens pretty much everywhere he went. Just a few higher-profile examples there.

Any way you slice it, the Panthers’ 2013 offseason has been quiet and will likely continue to be. Part of building a successful franchise over the long haul is matching up money with production, and former GM Marty Hurney “took care of his own” with the running backs and with center Ryan Kalil’s long-term deals.

LT Jordan Gross is scheduled to count $9.33 million in cap space this year as the team’s highest-priced offensive player, and that’s about right. He’s no Willie Anderson, but he’s in the lower half of the top-ten left tackles in the game, I think. Kalil’s top-3 easily but only counts $4.5 million, give or take.

CB Chris Gamble is the big doosie. If he stays on the roster, right now he stands to count $9.7-$11 million against the cap, depending on whom you ask, and was another that Hurney “took care of” back in 2008 with a huge six-year deal. With Gamble’s history of injuries in recent years, expect him to be released with a deep CB class in this year’s draft.

No word on restructuring on DE Charles Johnson’s contract. His contract overall calls for $12.67 million this year as he’s the 20th highest-paid player in the entire NFL. He’s entering the third year on a 6-year $72 million dollar deal.

Lastly, watch out for Jon Beason’s name by the March 12 deadline. He’s got a $9.5 million cap hit for this season.

No reason for Gettleman to make moves until the very last minute as the scouts are given time to scour the countryside and let a few schools’ pro days run before he makes his final decisions.

He probably already has, he just doesn’t have to say so yet.

He will on March 12.

Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye

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Tags: 2013 Carolina Panthers Free Agents Carolina Panthers

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