2013 NFL salary cap: Figures released, Panthers need to make big moves

USA TODAY Sports

The salary cap is an utter mess. Dave Gettleman has his work cut out.

The NFL has slightly increased its salary cap for the upcoming 2013 season to a figure of $121.1 million, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. The Carolina Panthers' salary cap situation is an utter mess, but there are some quick ways they can shed money.

Coinciding with the league's release of the cap figure, Spotrac now has updated 2013 cap hits for every team. The Panthers' situation is worse than previously imagined. If the season started today, Carolina would be $15 million over the salary cap. A combination of some ugly contracts, paired with almost $5 million in dead money is the reason behind the deficit. Here are the biggest contracts, which will most certainly need to be restructured, or cut:

Jordan Gross

$8.7 million salary, $1.0 million signing bonus, $2.0 million misc bonuses = $11.7 million cap hit.
The second-highest paid player on the roster - there is no doubt the Panthers need to rework Gross's deal. Cutting him outright would result in a $10 million saving, but would also be tantamount to throwing Cam Newton to the wolves. He's still a good left tackle, even if he's not great anymore.
Both sides should be able to work out a deal that reduces his cap hit to the $5-6 million range.

Chris Gamble

$7.95 million salary, $1.0 million signing bonus, $2.0 million misc bonuses = $10.95 million cap hit
Unlike Jordan Gross, there's no real justification for restructuring the deal. It's not that Gamble isn't an excellent cornerback, because he is - but the $10 million saved by cutting him outright is too valuable for a player who doesn't have a role in the long-term future of the organization.

Jon Beason

$5.25 million salary, $4.0 million signing bonus, $250,000 misc bonuses = $9.50 million cap hit
This one is entirely on Beason, because he has the Panthers over a barrel. Dave Gettleman can't afford to cut him outright (the cap hit would be $6-million, even amortized) and it would be almost impossible to trade him based on the contract and injury.
If Beason wants to stay in Carolina long-term, there's definitely a role for him. However they have to find a way to bring that cap hit down a few million.

DeAngelo Williams

$4.75 million salary, $3.2 million signing bonus, $250,000 misc bonuses = $8.20 million cap hit
The Panthers should cut DeAngelo outright. The cost would be an amortized $4.8 million in dead money over the next two years, but they have to get out from under the contract. As he showed in the latter part of 2012, there's still tread left on the tires - just not for a team with cap issues like Carolina.

James Anderson

$2.90 million salary, $1.40 million signing bonus, $100,000 misc bonuses = $4.40 million cap hit
They can spread this hit and take $2.1 million in each of the next two years, or just eat it now and spend $4.2 million. Either way the organization are saving money, and independent of Jon Beason, they can find an outside linebacker in the draft.

Ron Edwards

$2.15 million salary, $833,000 signing bonus, $350,000 misc bonuses = $3.33 million cap hit
This one is simple - save $2.5 million quickly with a cut. Big Ron was a rental, and it's time to move on.

Haruki Nakamura

$1.3 million salary, $333,333 signing bonus = $1.63 million cap hit
The team can save an easy million here. Find a player for the veteran minimum, or draft a depth safety. D.J. Campbell's emergence makes this an easy call.

Geoff Hangartner

$1.575 million salary = $1.575 million cap hit
I know many are tempted to cut Piggy, but this really isn't a lot of money for a veteran with his versatility. Keeping him and protecting Cam makes more sense.

Garry Williams

$1.02 million salary, $133,333 signing bonus, $100,000 misc bonuses = $1.26 million cap hit.
It makes more sense to spend the extra $500,000 and keep Hangartner over Williams here.

Armanti Edwards

$630,000 salary, $178,460 signing bonus = $808,460 cap hit
For a player who barely sees the field it's hard to justify almost $1 million. Bring him back to training camp and see what he can bring, but there's little reason to retain this contract.

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