The Carolina Panthers never figured to be big players in the first day of free agency, though there were some far-reaching moves that not only set up the 2013 season, but what the organization can do down the road.
Dave Gettleman worked hard to get the Panthers under the NFL's $123-million salary cap, cutting Chris Gamble and James Anderson was a two-pronged move that freed up money in 2013, but also beyond. This means that the team are silent, and perhaps quieter than expected. Their sole moves on Monday were middling -- cutting James Anderson, and re-signing Ben Hartsock. These are the moves to expect moving forward.
The rest of the league, however, made moves that have a far-reaching impact on the Panthers. The Cleveland Browns signed Paul Kruger to a 5-year, $40.5 million contract, which will now serve as the new basis for pass rusher contracts moving forward -- which will be be fascinating when the organization needs to look at re-signing Greg Hardy a year from now.
Meanwhile, inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe got a 5-year, $35 million deal from the Miami Dolphins, which in comparison makes Jon Beason's 6-year, $50 million easier to stomach. Beason was a three-time probowler, Ellerbe is a solid contributor. Large contracts are something we'll all need to get used to, because they're here to stay.
Chris Canty is joining the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, ending speculation he could come to Carolina on a hometown discount. It would have been a great fit, but impossible to pitch against the Ravens, especially with as little money as they have moving forward.
Day two of free agency begins today with plenty of questions. Will we know more about Captain Munnerlyn's future in Carolina? What about Derek Anderson, are reports he's returning true as well? Finally, will the biggest name the Panthers' sign continue to be Ben Hartsock? Only time will tell.