The Carolina Panthers lack free agents from within their ranks in comparison to last year, therefore they will have to put in some extra to sign players and complete their roster before the new season begins. Moreover, this year’s group will not include big name that will be eligible for free agency in 2013.
However, there are 10 players from the lot, who can become unrestricted free agents when the league year ends on March 13, that have made good impressions in the locker room, on field and have shown leadership qualities. It seems like coach Ron Rivera has struck some gold in his first season at Charlotte after all.
Panthers’ owner Jerry Richardson extolled tight end Jeremy Shockey for his impressive form, especially during the 2010 season, a time when the Panthers lacked the edge and managed to win only two games throughout the season.
Shockey complemented well with Greg Olsen but the veteran will be turning 32 years old in August. He would be seeking another $4 million deal this season. Panthers need to look for replacements immediately and start training a bunch of kids for the future.
Panthers certainly can’t afford to waste money on mediocre players as they are already tight against their salary cap after last summer’s spending spree. The Panthers locked down important players from their squad for the long haul with massive deals. Three starting linebackers, defensive end Charles Johnson, safety Charles Godfrey, running back DeAngelo Williams and center Ryan Kalil include the players listed as the future of Panthers.
The Panthers have a current cap number of around $123 million. Luckily they are on track for now as projected range for their 2012 cap is just between $121 million and $125 million.
The Panthers will have to very prudent about their signings as Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith and running back Jonathan Stewart will also include the unrestricted list in 2013. Panthers’ general manager Marty Hurney is confident about making the right moves. In a recent interview Hurney said:
“We made a lot of aggressive moves to keep our own players, our core, like we said we were. And with those aggressive moves, the bulk of our salary cap space is used with our core players right now, which is a good position to be in because when you look at our top-paid players, they’re all core players. They’re all very important players to us.
“Now we just have to make the right decisions as far as free agents go – our own and free agents from other teams – to complement those players and fit in both as players and into our salary-cap structure.”