David Gettleman seems to be serious about the long term and fixing our future cap problems. Look at the following:
One year deal with DT Colin Cole, league minimum.
Three year deal with WR James Shaw, league minimum.
One year deal with LB Jordan Senn, league minimum.
One year deal with FB/TE Richie Brockel, league minimum.
One year deal with TE Ben Hartstock.
One year deal with CB Drayton Florence.
One year deal with QB Derek Anderson.
Those are the first seven free agents signed or resigned by David Gettleman since he became the Carolina Panthers GM. All but one were one year contracts, and the James Shaw signing is practically a late rookie free agent contract. Reports say he has only offered a one year contract to DT Dwan Edwards. No big moves. No big commitments. As they say in chess, Gettleman seems to be setting up his pawns.
David Gettleman's first major surprise move was the release of LB James Anderson. With that cut he settled the direction of the linebacker corps and put his faith in the health of Jon Beason and Thomas Davis. Many fans were upset, as they see Anderson as insurance to Beason and Davis. Yet, this was not about Anderson's play. This was a pure business move. Anderson's contract had the least guaranteed money, hence the cap penalty for his release is less severe for this year and next. Beason was safe this year, mainly due how his contract was structured. It was between Davis and Anderson, and Gettleman chose to keep Davis. This however, does not mean that Beason or Davis is safe after 2013. Let me explain.
Many say that 2013 is Ron Rivera's last chance to prove he can leading a winning team into the playoffs. Gettleman also seems to be throwing down the gauntlet this year for our veteran players. DeAngelo Williams, Jon Beason, Thomas Davis, and Jordan Gross are on notice. Even younger players such as Greg Hardy and Charles Godfrey need to prove themselves. Can Beason return to the the all-pro form he had before the last two injury plagued years? Can Davis' right knee hold up another year? Can Hardy replicated his outstanding 2012 and earn a big contract, or was he a flash in the pan? Can Godfrey justify his high salary? I believe Williams and Gross are staying this year mainly due to Gettleman's wish to surround Cam Newton with as many playmakers and protectors as possible, until Gettleman finds cheaper and younger replacements in the draft. Ditto with Beason, Godfrey, and Davis. This year may be the last hurrah in Charlotte for our better known players.
Speaking of Newton, a large contract extension is looming on the horizon. Cam has two years left on his four year rookie contract. Due to the last CBA, players cannot renegotiate their rookie contracts until after their third year. If Cam does what we want him to do, as in, be SuperCam and lead us into the playoffs and beyond, then he will command over 20 million a year. Gettleman needs to start planning now, and that is what he seems to be doing. Ozzie Newsome, as we see from the past few days, is dealing with the situation in Baltimore that Gettleman foresees in the future with Newton.
It has only been three days into free agency, so more significant signings may happen over the next few weeks. Yet, I wouldn't expect anything more than a one or two year deal or a lot of money in those deals. Gettleman will be shopping for value. The draft, it seems, is where our new GM will make his biggest mark this year.