JR, and Hurney showed the rabid fan base that the Panthers arent afraid to spend money by doling out big contracts to our core players, locking them up for the next few years. At the time it seemed like a good move by keeping our guys together, but now we're somewhere between 8 and 11 million dollars over the cap and we haven't even opened free agency yet, much less try to sign our draft picks this year. It's possible for Hurney to get under the cap with a few re-negotiations, but what happens next year, and the year after that?
Next season we will have a few more core players who's contract will be up.
Jonathan Stewart will be a free agent in 2013. He's been a key contributor in the run game since he was drafted, and with the Newton/RivERA just underway, he has been our best receiver out of the back field improving his status as a core member. Many fan circles pin him as the best RB on our team, however Hurney gave DeAngelo Williams a big extension essentially making him the franchise running back.
In our new pass happy offense, I don't see any way to keep double trouble together after the 2012 season ends, as J-Stew is a feature back talent, and will probably expect to be paid like one. I don't see us paying 2 RB's franchise money, with the way our offense is heading into the pass happyness that is the NFL, just to pick up 700 yards each. Should we open the market and see what we could get in trade for Carolina's promising back this year, or let him run his course and walk away for nothing next year?
Steve Smith, our all-time leading receiver will also be without a contract in 2013. He is in a different situation than J-Stew in the fact that he is our featured receiver with no one else on the roster able to do the things he does. He is more likely to get an extension this season due to the fact he's taking up about $8 mil of much needed cap space, and is by far the best at his position on our team. The production at RB isn't as drastic unfortunately for Stew.
Other players set to become free agents in 2013:
Gary Barnridge - He's a guy we never really got the chance to look at, but has good speed/hands for a TE.
Mike Goodson - Has great potential, but couldnt hold onto the ball, and eventually fumbled his roster spot.
Sherrod Martin - Never really a stable option at FS, has shown flashes of being great, and bad. Sometimes in the same game.
Captain Munnerlyn - Hard nosed player not afraid of anything. Like Martin, has ups and downs, but this year was more downs than ups.
Andre Neblett - Never really got a true shot after last years draft. IMO he's better than the two 3rd rounders from the draft
Jeff Otah - On IR more times than games played (maybe not statistically, but seems like it) When he was on the field,
he was pretty good, but can he ever be reliable?
I'm sure i left someone out, but i think I got my point across. There's a few players with some value that I'd like to see stick around, and some that I think we should at least try to get some trade value out of instead of just letting them walk because we cant afford them, or just no longer need them. Sometimes I'm glad I'm not in Hurney's shoes.