Joseph Person has reported that the 2 year option deal Carolina picked up on Thomas Davis' contract has freed up $3.25 million in cap space for the team. The full details are here in Person's blog: http://blogs.charlotte.com/panthers/2014/02/thomas-davis-restructures-deal-salary-cap-panthers-nfl.html
I've never been able to gauge what our exact cap figure is (if someone wants to be a doll and do the math for us all that'd be great), but with the NFL increasing the cap space to $130 million--adding $7 million to each team's cap number--plus our approximate $6 million cap rollover, we're looking at about $15-18 million, correct? With Davis' restructuring/option pick up, it adds another $3.25 million. Because I'm a superb guestimator, I'd say we're sitting at around $18.25-21.25 under the cap, right? That's amazing numbers--especially if you consider where we were last year at this time.
$21.25 million is not enough to retain Hardy along with other players, however. According to Person though, Carolina is in the process of renegotiating other veteran contracts (most likely Kalil's and Charles Johnson's). If Carolina can successfully renegotiate some of these massive contracts, we could quite possibly be sitting near $30 million before Free Agency starts.
During Interviews Dave Gettleman had mentioned that this year's Free Agency for Carolina is going to look a lot like last year's, but now I'm not too sure. Smokescreens are common this time of year. I don't believe that Carolina is going to go after big name free agents (especially now that Nicks is showing signs that he's not going to be looking for a prove-it deal), but we might see a few bigger name pick ups than we did last year. Either that, or WE ARE going to do about the same as last year, and Gettleman is freeing up as much cap room as he can in order to retain our key pieces like Hardy, Munnerlyn, Gano, Mitchell and Ginn.
Extra Offseason News in Carolina: I haven't seen it mentioned that often around here, but Rivera specifically mentioned that Carolina is going to take a hard look at this draft's crop of receivers; mentioning the depth and quality of these kids. He stated that they're looking for a guy that can come in and compete right away. Foreshadowing the departure of Smith, maybe? Hopefully not, and hopefully just trying to find a legitimate guy to play with Smith, but we never know. Tony Pauline had also noted that he's heard Carolina is very interested in Clemson's OT/OG Brandon Thomas--who displayed a great deal of athleticism during his combine workout.
I decided to write this because I feel like people are missing a few opportunities to bring these topics up in the community.