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Should the Panthers be in play to sign former Giants right guard Kevin Zeitler, solidifying their less-than-spectacular offensive line? It could happen given that most of the Panthers five starters from last season are set to hit the open market.
Panthers readying for a big offseason?
Three of Carolina’s five starting offensive lineman are unrestricted free agents. That’s left tackle Russell Okung and both guards, John Miller and Chris Reed. Michael Schofield is also set to hit the market.
If Carolina signed Zeitler, it would make for an offensive line with former Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman’s fingerprints all over it. Gettleman drafted right tackle Taylor Moton in 2017, shortly before he was fired. Once in New York, Gettleman then acquired Zeitler from the Browns in 2019 as part of the Odell Beckham Jr. deal.
Carolina is currently trying to get Taylor Moton under contract after they applied the franchise tag to him, guaranteeing he’ll stick around for 2021. That move likely bought time for both sides to agree to an extension.
Meanwhile, the Giants were trying to move on from the 31-year-old Zeitler to get out from under his $12 million 2021 base salary. The move cleared nearly $10 million in cap space.
Zeitler has never been voted to a Pro Bowl or selected as an All-Pro. He was coming off his worst season, Big Blue View’s Ed Valentine noted, with his lowest Pro Football Focus grade and second-most pressures allowed in nine seasons.
Whoever does sign Zeitler will probably be looking at a reduced price tag from the $10.66 million average annual value (AAV) the Giants were paying him. Chad Forbes of NFLDraftBites is suggesting the number will fall to around $8 million. And Forbes also included Carolina as a potential destination for Zeitler.
Cats rework their cap
Earlier in the day, the NFL announced that the 2021 salary cap will be set at $182.5 million. The Panthers entered Wednesday with about $18.4 million in cap space.
The team also restructured running back Christian McCaffrey and linebacker Shaq Thompson’s contracts.
More than $7 million of McCaffrey’s $8 million base salary will be converted to a signing bonus, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. McCaffrey’s restructure will save the Panthers $5.64 million against the cap.
Signing Zeitler is feasible given these recent developments. At least one CSR writer is all-in on it as well: