Breaking Down the Panthers Remaining 2014 Free Agents

Otto Greule Jr

We've discussed thoroughly the fact DE Greg Hardy will need a new contract after the 2013 season. What other Panther vets will have expiring contracts?

For simplicity I'm not including the various guys we brought in on one year deals since it's obvious their deals will need to be renewed if they stay. I'm referring to guys like Colin Cole, Drayton Florence, Ted Ginn, Dominik Hixon, Mike Mitchell, DJ Moore, and Jordan Senn. Instead I'm focusing on the Panthers who have multi-year deals expiring.

In alphabetical order with most recent contract info, from Rotoworld:

QB Derek Anderson

3/13/2013: Signed a one-year, $840,000 contract. 2014: Free Agent

Anderson gives the Panthers a solid vet back-up presence behind the youthful Newton and the price is right. I could see Anderson returning for yet another season on a one year deal. When you add in the entertainment value of his Twitter account re-signing him is a no-brainer.

OG/C Thomas Austin

12/4/2012: Signed a two-year, $1.02 million contract. 2013: $555,000, 2014: Restricted Free Agent

Getting a two year deal says the Panthers had some hopes in this guy though he has played very little (4 Gms, 1 GS in '12). He does offer the versatility of playing both center and guard so provided he has a good camp and continues to improve he has a good chance of making the 53 and getting renewed for the 2014 season.

OT Byron Bell

7/30/2011: Signed a three-year, $1.409 million contract. The deal included a $14,000 signing bonus. 2013: $555,000, 2014: RFA

Since arriving in 2011 the Panther coaches have been comfortable with letting Bell grow into the position. Did he grow a lot in 2012? I'm not so sure. Bell is better at run blocking and has great size for it. His weakness has been pass protection but I think they will give him more time, but not a lot. Being an RFA in 2014 indicates he has a good chance of returning since the Panthers could match any offers. What Gettleman does with Bell will be quite interesting given G-Man believes late round OL can be serviceable.

TE Richie Brockel

2013: $555,000. 2014: RFA

Brockel is a lunch pail kind of guy who can help in many ways. His special teams play might be enough for him to garner another short term deal with the Panthers in 2014. Any help he gives on offense is gravy.

OG Jeff Byars

12/18/2011: Signed a three-year, $1.395 million contract. 2013: $555,000, 2014: RFA

Byers filled in at RG and center down the stretch last season when the Panthers went on a winning streak. His price is right so outside of a preseason meltdown in 2013 I can see Byers being brought back provided he plays better than Thomas Austin.

OT Bruce Campbell

7/9/2010: Signed a four-year, $2.313 million contract. The deal included a $522,500 signing bonus. 2013: $630,000, 2014: FA

So can Campbell play or not? I'm not so sure. He looks great in the uniform and in practice but will he ever get a chance to show it when it counts. Probably not this season so that makes the preseason even more important for Campbell. My gut feeling is Campbell will not be renewed even if he makes the 53 for 2013. If he is not the answer at LT long term then the Panthers will need to find someone who is.

QB Jimmy Clausen

7/28/2010: Signed a four-year, $6.3 million contract. The deal includes $2.533 million guaranteed and a fourth-year escalator that could boost Clausen's 2013 base salary to $2.85 million. Even if Clausen does not activate the escalator, his 2013 salary is fully guaranteed. 2013: $630,000, 2014: Free Agent

Though we have been predicting Clausen's departure for some time now will it finally happen in 2014? I would think there is a very good chance as he makes more than most 3rd string QBs. There is still a slight chance the Panthers move him this year right around the trade deadline but don't hold your breathe.

CB James Dockery

7/28/2011: Signed a three year, $1.415 million contract. The deal included a $20,000 signing bonus. 2013: $555,000, 2014: RFA

I really like this guy and hope he shows a lot in 2013. In that event then I think its a no brainer the Panthers tender Dockery. It just depends on the round of the tender but I'm betting he returns regardless. I'd like to see that happen.

WR Armanti Edwards

7/8/2010: Signed a four-year, $2.504 million contract. The deal included a $713,840 signing bonus. 2013:$630,000, 2014: FA

Edwards is another guy who might be on his last legs in Carolina. The reports have been good from mini camp but we have heard this before. Will he ever get the chance on the field when it counts? I'm not so sure. He's going to need to blow up in the preseason to grab that #3 spot and hang on to the 53. Even though he is a controversy magnet I'm pulling for him and hope he returns.

K Graham Gano

11/20/2012: Signed a two-year, $1.33 million contract. 2013: $715,000, 2014: FA

A kickers job is simple, kick it through the uprights, especially when the game is on the line. If Gano can do that he will return since he has the kick off part down pretty good. Yet it is not so simple. Hopefully the Panthers will put him in more of those situations this season.

WR Davis Gettis

6/15/2010: Signed a four-year, $1.884 million contract. The deal included a $94,000 signing bonus. 2013: $575,000, 2014: Free Agent

Gettis is another guy on his last chance to stay around. He has fought the injury bug for two seasons now but seems 100% and ready to give it his best shot. He seems to be everything the Panthers need in a #3 WR but like others he just needs the chance to show it.

DE Greg Hardy

6/17/2010: Signed a four-year, $1.906 million contract. The deal included a $115, 786 signing bonus. 2013: $1.35 million, 2014: FA

If Hardy has another season like last year or improves on it even a little he will command a high dollar contract. This will be a huge decision by Gettleman, does he try to sign him now or wait and see what the market is later? Might he instead admit Hardy is a good player but think he has enough behind him in the form of Frank Alexander to spend that money elsewhere? It is really hard to say right now but given the Panthers do not seem to be talking to Hardy about a new contract it would appear it is going to play out.

TE Ben Hartsock

3/12/2013: Signed a one-year, $905,000 contract. The deal included a $65,000 signing bonus. 2013: $840,000, 2014: Free Agent

Though Hartsock is on a one year deal he has been a Panther for two seasons so I included him. I'm not sure I'm buying the notion of Hartsock the receiving TE as was suggested in mini-camp but if he can catch a few more balls (only 2 rec in '12) then it seems a no brainer to bring him back at least for one more season. The only concern is he is getting a little long in the tooth (33).

WR Brandon LaFell

7/20/2010: Signed a four-year, $2.608,400 contract. The deal included an $818,400 signing bonus. 2013: $1.35 million, 2014: FA

Another big decision for Gettleman. As James pointed out recently there are lesser WRs getting $30M contracts this offseason and I can't imagine LaFell will not try to take advantage of that. If LaFell has a break out season like many think he will I have a hard time seeing him coming back. I'd hate to see him go but he seems like the kind of guy that will follow the money if we don't re-sign him this year.

CB Captain Munnerlyn

3/20/2013: Signed a one-year, $1.1 million contract. The deal included a $300,000 signing bonus. 2013: $750,000, 2014: FA

Another guy we have discussed a lot this offseason, Munnerlyn just got a new one year deal so he is no guarantee to stick around further. Still he a tough, resilient player that I'm hoping he returns.

S Haruki Nakamura

3/2/2013: Signed a one-year, $815,000 contract. The deal included a $65,000 signing bonus. Another $300,000 is available through playing-time incentives. 2013: $715,000 (+ $35,000 workout bonus), 2014: Free Agent

Another DB that got a one year deal, Nakamura is a special teams specialist and a back-up FS. If he can remain solid at that he might return. He will have to take a pay cut though.

LB Jason Williams

10/9/2012: Signed a two-year, $1.33 million contract. 2013: $715,000, 2014: Free Agent

With the addition of AJ Klein and Chase Blackburn Williams might be the odd man out. I'm doubting he makes the 53 unless he is deemed a special teams specialist, which he might. But I'm thinking the odds are long.

OT Garry Williams

12/8/2011: Signed a three-year, $2.53 million contract. The deal included a $400,000 signing bonus. 2013: $1.025 million (+ $100,000 workout bonus), 2014: Free Agent

Williams is a versatile OL who can also play guard. The good news for him is he doesn't have a lot of serious competition for his roster spot yet again this year but that could change next offseason.
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