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Could Carolina Panthers DT Dwan Edwards be a cap casualty?

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The Panthers can save roughly $1.4 million in cap space by releasing the veteran defensive tackle.

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

On August 31, 2012, the Buffalo Bills released defensive tackle Dwan Edwards. Because the Bills had two up-and-coming defensive tackles in Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, it didn’t make a lot of sense for the Bills to pay $4.1 million to a backup defensive tackle.

Fast forward to 2014, and Edwards has found himself in a similar situation, this time with the Carolina Panthers. Edwards is a prime candidate to be released this offseason because once again, there are two younger, more talented defensive tackles who have surpassed him on the depth chart – Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short.

In 2013, Panthers Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott occasionally had Star Lotulelei line up as a pass rushing 3 technique defensive tackle, a role that Lotulelei thrived in. The Panthers also saw improved play from Kawann Short (who was drafted as the Panthers long-term 3 technique defensive tackle) as the season progressed.

Meanwhile, Edwards struggled staying healthy in 2013, as he missed six games dealing with a hamstring injury. After he returned, he played more than 50% of the defensive snaps in only four of the Panthers final ten games. Edwards would end the year with 20 total tackles, three sacks, seven hits, and 16 quarterback hurries. His statistics aren’t necessarily bad, but it’s important to note that his overall defensive role was trending downward as the season progressed, not upward.

According to Spotrac, Edwards has a cap hit of approximately $2 million, of which $600,000 is guaranteed money in the form of a signing bonus. If the Panthers release him, they could save approximately $1.4 million. For a team with 21 players set to hit free agency, but only $8.2 million in cap space, it’s a move that makes perfect sense.