Ryan Kalil and Jonathan Stewart restructure contracts with Panthers

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

It's not much, but it's a start.

The Carolina Panthers began their offseason preparations in earnest by restructuring the contracts of center Ryan Kalil and running back Jonathan Stewart,

Both moves combine to free up roughly $4 million in 2014, while burdening the team slightly down the road by converting salary into signing bonus. The moves were first reported by Brian McIntyre of Yahoo Sports who outlined both moves.

The number may not be much, but it's not insignificant. These savings could potentially pay for the majority of a short-term deal for left tackle Jordan Gross or go in the increasingly large kitty that would need to be allocated in any move that involves trying to retain Greg Hardy, either by franchise tagging the defensive end or signing him to a large long-term deal.

In terms of real money, here's what happened in both deals.

Ryan Kalil

Kalil is taking a pay cut of $3.9 million in 2014 and converting that money into his signing bonus. It's unclear at this time if the veteran center received an additional bonus for helping the team -- that's normally customary.

Assuming he didn't and this was a purely altruistic move it will raise the Panthers salary cap. If the contract terms are kept the same Kalil will account for just over $1.0 million on the cap in each of the next three seasons.

Jonathan Stewart

This move is similar, but frees up less money. We are waiting to see what the salary conversion is, but we know he is receiving $7.5 million in bonus over the next five years and freed up $911,000 this year.

There are a lot of questions about Stewart's deal, because on the surface it appears he extended his deal -- not just restructured it. A five year proration of bonus (cited by McIntyre) would indicate he will be with the team through 2018. Initially his contract was scheduled to expire at the end of the 2017 season.

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