There's plenty of room under the cap to sign a valuable veteran like Haruki Nakamura. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
As we enter day four of free agency I thought it would be prudent to take a step back, check the stock and see where the Carolina Panthers stand in relation to the $120.6 million salary cap for the 2012 season. The following figures are courtesy of Spotrac, and while they should be taken with a grain of salt I feel it gives us a ballpark of where the team is at. These numbers take into account all cuts that have occurred, and include both Travelle Wharton's 'dead money' and Derek Anderson's contract. It does not, however, include the Hangartner signing, presumably because contract details are unavailable.
Drum roll please...
The Panthers are currently sitting at $106,185,019. Now, keep in mind all NFL teams are required to keep $5 million in reserve to sign their draft class, and I'm assuming Hangartner will make around $2 million, so really we're looking at having $7.9 million in space to spend. After the jump I'll look at how many roster spots we have to fill, and we can prognosticate about who is coming in.As it stands the Carolina Panthers have 53 players under contract, with another six players (at least) coming in via the draft. So, the Panthers are in good shape right now and will likely cut a few more players before this off-season is over. Today they are visiting with FS Haruki Nakamura, who would be an excellent addition and likely cost somewhere in the $1-2 million range.
C/G Jason Brown is also visiting shortly, and if signed would likely command slightly less than Nakamura at the $1 million range.
Assuming the Panthers make both these signings they would still have around $5 million in space, and a full incoming draft class. In short, the financial situation is better than I thought, and it seems Hurney and company have worked their cap managements skills to great effect again.
If you're afraid the Panthers have painted themselves into a corner with contracts last year, it actually seems like with outgoing 2013 free agents the Panthers could have as much as $15-20 million in space next off-season, but it's important to note that this includes players like Steve Smith, Jonathan Stewart and Jeff Otah off the roster, and they will likely look to re-sign a couple of these players.