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Who should go after this year? A cap and contract analysis

The Panthers will be hiring a new GM after the end of the season. The new GM will bring a new plan. But the old plan will still have to be dealt with. Currently, I read that experts say we are going to be about $10M over the salary cap before the year starts.

I fear that a new GM is going to have to work some serious magic to create cap space to work with. We have 20 players under contracts that are over $4M. It is easy to comment that we need to cut loose players that do not produce to free up cap space. However, guys like Captain Munnerlyn, Sherrod Martin, and Armanti Edwards are not among these highly paid players. Cutting these guys will not have a significant effect on our cap space.

Below, I will list the 20 highest contracts on the team. Remember that a bonus payment is prorated across all the years in the contract. If a player gets a $10M signing bonus on a five year contract, we get a $2M cap hit each year. If we trade him or cut him during year 2, then the amounts for years 3 to 5 all count against year 3. Yes, to cut this player during or after the second year, costs $6M in the third year, but saves that years’ salary. Therefore, sometimes you cannot cut a player because you cannot take the cap hit.

James Anderson – 7/29/2011: Signed a five-year, $22 million contract. The deal contains $8.5 million guaranteed, including a $7 million signing bonus and $1.5 million of Anderson’s second-year salary. 2012: $2.4 million, 2013: $2.9 million, 2014-2015: $3.9 million, 2016: Free Agent. To Cut Anderson would cause a $4.2M cap hit from his bonus, but we would not have to pay his salary of $2.9M. In net, it will cost $1.3M to cut or trade Anderson before 2013. I do not see it happening. However, after 2013, we can cut him for a savings of $1.1M.

Jon Beason – 7/29/2011: Signed a six-year, $51.338 million contract. The deal contains $25 million guaranteed, including a $20 million signing bonus. 2012: $1.25 million, 2013: $5.25 million, 2014: $6.5 million, 2015: $7.5 million, 2016: $8.75 million, 2017: Free Agent. To Cut Beason would cause a $16.65M cap hit from his bonus, but we would not have to pay his salary of $5.25M. In net, it will cost $11.4M to cut or trade Beason before 2013. I do not see it happening. Net before 2014 is a loss of $6M, Net before 2015 is a loss of $850K. If we cut him before the final year, we do get a gain of $4.5M.

Jimmy Clausen – 7/28/2010: Signed a four-year, $6.3 million contract. The deal includes $2.533 million guaranteed and a fourth-year escalator that could boost Clausen’s 2013 salary to $2.85 million. 2012: $490,000 (+ $923,000 roster bonus due 3/27), 2013: $575,000, 2014: Free Agent. 2013 is the final year of his contract. I guess that we would save either $575K or $2.85M by cutting him. I think he is gone.

Thomas Davis – 7/29/2011: Signed a five-year, $36.5 million contract. The deal included a $7 million signing bonus and contains $250,000 workout bonuses in years two through five. 2012: $700,000, 2013: $4.25 million (+ $500,000 option bonus), 2014: $5.75 million (+ $2.5 million option bonus), 2015: $7.25 million, 2016: Free Agent. If we cut TD before 2013, we take a Cap hit from bonus paid of $4.2M and save salary of $4.25M. That is a wash. We keep him unless he is not playing like he is today. Before 2014 we would save $4.25M so that is the year he may go.

Ron Edwards – 7/29/2011: Signed a three-year, $8.25 million contract. The deal included a $2.5 million signing bonus. 2012: $1.5 million, 2013: $2.15 million, 2014: Free Agent. If we cut Ron, we take a Cap hit from bonus paid of $0.78M and save salary of $2.15M. A net savings of $1.73M. We keep him unless he is not playing like he is today.

Chris Gamble – 11/28/2008: Signed a six-year, $53.5 million contract. The deal contains $23 million guaranteed, including a $6 million signing bonus and another $10 million "signing" bonus in the second year. 2012: $6.75 million, 2013: $7.9 million, 2014: $8.85 million, 2015: Free Agent. If we cut Gamble, we take a Cap hit from bonus paid of $6M and save salary of $7.9M. A net savings of $1.9M. I do not think that saving that little is worth cutting our only quality DBack. If we cut him before 2014, we would free up $5.85M for that year.

Charles Godfrey – 9/9/2011: Signed a six-year, $28.7 million contract. The deal contains $12.4 million guaranteed, including a $5 million signing bonus. Godfrey is eligible for annual $100,000 workout bonuses in years two through six. He can earn an additional $100,000 per year based on Pro Bowl appearances. 2012: $700,000 (+ $5 million option bonus), 2013: $1.6 million, 2014-2015: $5 million, 2016: $5.3 million, 2017: Free Agent. If we cut Godfrey, we take a Cap hit from bonus paid of $7.4M and save salary of $1.6M. A net cost of $5.8M. We cannot cut him before 2013. However, his salary spikes in 2014. I bet we only see him one more year.

Jordan Gross – 2/19/2009: Signed a six-year, $60 million contract. The deal included a $5 million signing bonus. 2012: $8.5 million, 2013: $8.7 million, 2014: $6.7 million, 2015: Free Agent. If we cut Gross, we take a Cap hit from bonus paid of $1.67M and save salary of $8.7M. A net savings of $7M. . I think he is gone.

Geoff Hangartner – 3/13/2012: Signed a three-year, $4.85 million contract. 2012: $825,000, 2013: $1.575 million, 2014: $2.45 million, 2015: Free Agent. If we cut Hangartner, we do not take Cap hit from bonus since he did not get a bonus. We would save salary of $1.575M. A net savings of $1.575M. Is this is a lot for a good backup (but not really a starter) lineman? I do not think so as we are seeing with Kalil on IR.

Charles Johnson – 7/29/2011: Signed a six-year, $76 million contract. The deal contains $32 million guaranteed, including a $30 million signing bonus. An annual $250,000 workout bonus is available in years two through six. 2012: $4.75 million, 2013: $6.75 million, 2014: $8.75 million, 2015: $9.75 million, 2016: $10.75 million, 2017: Free Agent. If we cut Big $$, we take a Cap hit from bonus paid of $20M and save salary of $6.75M. A net cost of $13.25M. He is not going anywhere until 2015 or 2016.

Ryan Kalil – 8/19/2011: Signed a six-year, $49 million contract. The deal contains $28 million guaranteed, including an $18 million signing bonus. An annual $250,000 workout bonus is available in years two through six. 2012: $1.5 million, 2013: $4.75 million (+ $5 million option bonus), 2014: $4.75 million, 2015: $5.366 million, 2016: $7.5 million, 2017: Free Agent. Do not know how the other $10M is guaranteed. But there is at least $19M in cap hit to cut him. He is not going anywhere.

Luke Kuechly – 5/10/2012: Signed a four-year, $12.58 million contract. The deal is fully guaranteed, including a $7.58 million signing bonus. 2012: $390,000, 2013: $961,755, 2014: $1,533,510, 2015: $2,105,265, 2016: Free Agent. What a bargain. I am not going to break this one down.

Haruki Nakamura – 3/16/2012: Signed a three-year, $4.8 million contract. The deal contains $1.3 million guaranteed, including a $1 million signing bonus. Another $700,000 is available through salary escalators in the final year. 2012: $700,000, 2013: $1.3 million, 2014: $1.8 million, 2015: Free Agent. Again, I cannot tell the exact implication, but it looks like a wash.

Cam Newton – 7/29/2011: Signed a four-year, $22,025,498 contract. The deal is fully guaranteed, including a $14,518,544 signing bonus. 2012: $1,376,159, 2013: $2,377,318, 2014: $3,378,477, 2015: Free Agent. No analysis needed. Great Value for us

Greg Olsen – 7/28/2011: Signed a five-year, $24.7 million contract. The deal contains $8.7 million guaranteed, including a $2.5 million signing bonus and all of Olsen’s first two base salaries. Annual $250,000 workout bonuses are available in years three through five. 2012: $700,000 (+ $4.8 million "signing" bonus), 2013: $3.75 million, 2014-2015: $5.25 million, 2016: Free Agent. If we cut Olsen, we take a Cap hit from bonus paid of $5.4M and save salary of $4M. A net Loss of $1.4M. . I think he is staying put. I think he is a good value.

Amini Silatolu – 5/10/2012: Signed a four-year, $4.937 million contract. The deal contains $3.1 million guaranteed, including a $2.03 million signing bonus. 2012: $390,000, 2013: $564,414, 2014: $738,828, 2015: $963,242, 2016: Free Agent. No analysis needed. Great Value for us.

Steve Smith – 4/10/2012: Signed a four-year, $37.75 million contract w/ 2016 Option. The deal contains $16.8 million guaranteed, including a $10 million signing bonus and each of Smith’s first three base salaries. 2012: $1 million, 2013: $3.75 million, 2014: $4 million (+ $3 million option bonus), 2015: $7 million, 2016: $9 million (Option Year), 2017: Free Agent. This contract is guaranteed. We can trade him, but not cut him. I do not see him getting traded since he said he wants to retire a Panther. JR would not alienate the fans like that.

Jonathan Stewart – 8/11/2012: Signed a six-year, $37.811 million contract. The deal contains $22.5 million guaranteed, including a $9 million signing bonus. Another $6 million is available through incentives based on 1,200-yard rushing seasons and 1,600 all-purpose yard seasons. 2012: $811,250, 2013: $1 million, 2014: $1.5 million (+ $9 million option bonus), 2015: $4.25 million, 2016: $5 million, 2017: $5.5 million, 2018: Free Agent. I cannot tell what effect cutting or trading would have, but I am very confident he is not going anywhere

Mike Tolbert – 3/19/2012: Signed a four-year, $8.4 million contract. The deal contains $2.7 million guaranteed — a $2 million signing bonus and all of Tolbert’s 2012 base salary. Another $1.6 million is available through incentives. Tolbert is eligible for annual $25,000 workout bonuses throughout the contract’s life. 2012: $700,000, 2013: $1 million (+ $1.5 million option bonus), 2014: $2.3 million, 2015: $2.4 million, 2016: Free Agent. To cut Tolbert would cause a hit of $1.5M for bonus and save $2M in salary and the option bonus. A $500K savings. I think he is on the bubble for a new GM.

DeAngelo Williams – 7/29/2011: Signed a five-year, $43 million contract. The deal contains $21 million guaranteed, including a $16 million signing bonus and $5 million of Williams’ second-year base salary. 2012: $5.25 million, 2013: $4.75 million, 2014: $5.75 million, 2015: $6.75 million, 2016: Free Agent. To cut DWill would cost the cap $12.6M in bonus and save $4.75M in salary. That is a cap hit of $7.85M to cut him. I do not see that happening. I think we only trade him for a very high draft choice and who would do that?

So, the players that I believe are gone after this year are Clausen to save $2.85M, Gross to save $7M, Nakamura for no savings this year, but $1.8M in 2014. This will effectively cover our projected $10M overage for next year.

The player that I believe is gone after next year is Godfrey for no savings in 2014, but huge savings in 2015. We could also cut ties with TD in 2014 to free up $4.5M, Cut ties with Gamble for $5.85M

This is very discouraging to me. If we rework existing contracts, we have to increase the total cap hit to push out money from one year to the next. It is going to take at least 2 years for a new GM to undo the Hurney plan before he can start to implement a new plan. We just are not going to be able to turn over our players very quickly.

Our new plan must be to put the staff in place to get these guys winning. And to do a much better job with the draft.

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