This is the definition of Win-Win,via Pat Y at ESPN:
The deal includes $16.8 million in guaranteed money. Smith received a $10 million signing bonus and comes out way ahead on what he’ll earn in 2012. In addition to the signing bonus, he’ll also earn $1 million in base salary. Smith had been scheduled to earn $7.75 million in the final year of his contract. The new deal gives Smith more money, but he also frees up significant salary-cap room for the Panthers, who had less than $500,000 available before this deal.
So we could be looking at more free agents or the money could be used to work a new deal or extension for RB Jonathan Stewart or even RT Jeff Otah. I'm thinking they take a 'wait-n-see' approach with Otah.
Smith's 2012 cap hit drops from $10.7M to $5.96M...In Hurney we trust!