Carolina Panthers release Chris Gamble

Andy Lyons

It was expected, but the hammer has dropped.

The Carolina Panthers have announced they have cut Chris Gamble, according to the team's Twitter feed. It's a move that frees up $7.9-million in cap space, and puts the organization under the 2013 salary cap.

If you followed the situation closely it was a matter of 'when', not 'if' the Panthers decided to release the nine-year veteran. A large cap figure, paired with recent injury made it impossible to justify keeping him on the roster. This was further exacerbated by a young secondary, who showed no appreciable drop-off following Gamble being placed on injured reserve in 2012.

This was a move that needed to be made, but leaves the Panthers vulnerable at cornerback. They now turn to a group of mid-round draft picks, and un-drafted free agents to fill their CB position -- and it remains to be seen whether the organization will retain Captain Munnelyn, an unrestricted free agent. At the end of the season James Dockery, and Josh Thomas showed promise -- but neither are reliable starting cornerbacks. Meanwhile, 2012 fifth round pick Josh Norman showed early promise, but faded as a the season progressed, and was ultimately benched.

Gamble will enter free agency and likely be one of the top veteran corners available. After the initial hit to land some of the top names available, he represents tremendous potential to a veteran team in need of a reliable cornerback. If the San Francisco 49ers are unable to obtain Darrelle Revis in a trade, he would be the perfect fit in their secondary.

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