Next Panther GM Will Face Fiscal Imbalance

Wesley Hitt

The WSJ put out an interesting analysis of each NFL team showing how much of its salary cap is spent on offense, defense and special teams and then breaks the money down further by position. Compared to this year's playoff team averages the Panthers have some serious imbalances to attend to.

When you compare offensive salaries versus defensive salaries the playoff team average was remarkably almost a 50/50 split:

Playoff Team AVG Offense: $48.4M Defense: $48.5M

Comparatively the Panthers spent $47.5M on offense but only $35.7M on defense.

That's a 57% lean to the offense. Looking a little deeper the Panthers are on the high end when comparing the salaries of their top 3 players (which the post does not identify but I found the data here). The Panthers top three salaries ($31.2M) in 2012 were for DE Charles Johnson, LT Jordan Gross and RB DeAngelo Williams.

The position breakdown revels what you would expect:

  • On offense the Panthers spend a lot on RBs and OTs and very little C and OG
  • On defense they spend a lot on DE, LB and S but not enough at DT or CB

The piece then goes on to list three lessons learned from the data with only one of those particularly applicable to the Panthers:

How the Smartest NFL Teams Spend Money -

CONCLUSION NO. 3: You can give nearly half your money to three players. NFL rosters have 53 players. Denver is doling out 41% of the cash it's spending on active, non-injured players to just three guys: Manning and veteran superstar defenders Elvis Dumervil and Champ Bailey.

What helped the Broncos is, again, the league's CBA—specifically, a rule that allows teams to roll over unused salary-cap space for the next season. If a team last year was $10 million under the salary cap, for instance, they could roll it over to this year, meaning they could spend $131 million rather than $121 million, which could more than offset any dead money.

Denver is doling out 41% of its money on Elvis Dumervil, Champ Bailey (pictured) and Peyton Manning. The Broncos this year had $26 million in cap rollover, second-most in the league. That made it easier to pay Manning $18 million this season. "If the don't have that cap rollover, they don't have Peyton Manning," Canter said.

The fact the Panthers have $31.2M tied up in their top three players tends to concern a lot of Panther fans. The piece would suggest that the concern is unfounded when you look at the playoff team averages. The bigger concern is getting more balance.

Based on the numbers I'm seeing I think the Panthers might be rolling over some money this year in order to spend it this offseason. It might be only about $5M but even that amount might help land a top free agent. Wishing thinking probably but that is the situation the next Panther GM is walking into.


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