This has been a rough offseason for Carolina Panthers’ fans, filled with ups and downs. They’ve had to endure tons of speculation about the future of Cam Newton in Carolina, since week two. The hiring of Coach Matt Rhule made things a little better, after a five win season. There has been a lot of talk about a complete rebuild and that it might take a couple of years to become a contender.
Panthers’ fans then had some huge news, as word broke that they intended to sign Joe Brady for their open offensive coordinator spot. Brady had just helped LSU win the National Championship, as their passing coordinator. The happiness was short lived, as later that day Luke Kuechly announced his retirement from the NFL. This news catapulted Panther Nation into a state of depression.
Less than a month later, Greg Olsen and the Panthers announced that they had mutually parted ways. Fans are still having to hear about Cam being the answer for every team in the NFL except the Panthers. So yes, it’s definitely been a tough start to the offseason.
So that raises the question, what happens now? It’s hard to tell exactly what the team will do this offseason, but there are a lot of things that the team could do to become relevant again this year. We are going to start this five part series with some players who should be salary cap casualties.
Salary Cap Dumps
The Panthers currently have around $32 million in salary cap space. That’s not a lot when compared to the holes on the team. There are a few players that could be cut in order to gain more cap space.
Poe has a club option in his contract that the Panthers are unlikely to pick up. Poe’s cap hit is $13,145,834 with a dead cap of $3,333,334. Declining his option would add $9,812,500 to the salary cap. Yes, that would make another hole on the roster, but at this point Poe hasn’t played up to his salary. That $9.8 million could go a long way in free agency. In the past, teams could decline a player option and get a compensatory pick the following year, but the NFL changed that rule. It’s unclear if Poe’s contract was grandfathered in, as the rule was changed after Poe signed with Carolina.
If Carolina did get a compensatory pick for Poe, it could net as high as a fourth rounder, depending on his next salary, playing time and other things included in the formula. Also, there have been some questions about whether the team can decline an option on an injured player. The answer is yes, they can decline an option without paying an injury settlement. Although, certain circumstances can warrant a $1.2m injury settlement. (Thank you Nick Korte of Over The Cap for this information)
Mr. Third Down underperformed this year, although some of that could be contributed to lackluster quarterback play. Like Poe, Wright has a club option that the team will likely decline. With the team being in a rebuild, they need all the money that they can get. Wright’s cap hit is $3,666,668 with a dead cap of $666,668. The Panthers will gain $3,000,000 in cap space with declining Wright’s option. This is an easy decision.
Davis was claimed off waivers in 2019, but did nothing to impress fans. Granted, he didn’t get any opportunities to do so. If Carolina cuts Davis, they would get $3,000,000 in cap space with no dead money. The Panthers need all of the help they can get.
If the team makes these three cuts, they will gain $15,812,500 in extra cap space. That will take the total to approximately $48,020,165 in salary cap space for the 2020 offseason. Keep in mind, the salary cap total hasn’t been established yet, but the number will be between $196.8m-$201.2m. The total used in this article is $199m, which is the estimate by Spotrac.
Side note: Carolina currently has $27.3m in dead cap space, and they’ll add more with the declined options of Poe and Wright. However, all of the current dead cap will fall off next year.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which will go into detail about players who deserve to be re-signed, and one who doesn’t. Also, with the combine coming up in less than two weeks, keep checking our college prospect visit list for more updates. We are just getting started. #KeepPounding