Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman addressed the public today for the first time since the team's loss to San Francisco in the playoffs and money was on his mind.
The phrase "cap challenged" was repeated numerous times by Gettleman, who refused to go into specifics of impending negotiations. He said the team would be out of a salary cap mess in two years, "Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise."
Gettleman praised Ron Rivera, saying he has "ultimate faith" in the team's head coach moving forward, while saying Cam Newton "proved" he was a franchise quarterback this season. On the coaching front Rivera said that he anticipates all his coordinators and coaches to return in 2014, killing the idea of there being any shakeups. It's expected, but Rivera ackowledged that there were far too many field goals in 2013 and that the offense needs to score more touchdowns.
There were some laughs and some mirth, but a lot of very scary elements that could be on the horizon. Gettleman refused to talk about Jordan Gross, saying that his future with the team is "between Jordan and I," while issuing the longest pause of the day when asked whether wide receiver Steve Smith would return to the team. He called the situation "liquid" and wouldn't expound further.
Gettleman acknowledged that the team received a seventh round selection in exchange for Jon Beason, giving them a pick in all seven rounds in May. The continual reference to being "cap challenged" speaks a lot to the team's approach this offseason, namely: Don't expect any big signings.
Reading between the lines is a tricky prospect with a healthy amount of inference, but there's a lot to be garnered in relation to Greg Hardy. Gettleman did not speak specifically about the free agent defensive end, but spoke about how when a quality player it allowed to walk there's always something behind the scenes people don't know about.
The Panthers will continue on their path from 2013. It will be cheap, there will be a few "mercenary" one-year signings as Gettleman called them, but no big pops. His plan is to have the Panthers cap-solvent within two years, and it remains to be seen whether that could mean Gross, Smith and Hardy are all allowed to leave because of contstraints.
There are a few big decisions to make, but there's a possibility this team looks very different in a few months.