The Panthers got off to a hot start as soon as the legal tampering window opened yesterday in advance of tomorrow’s start to the league year. For those of you confused by that sentence, just know that legal tampering is NFLese for the official unofficial start to Free Agency.
The real work started to become public last week with a series of announcements of contract restructures—not to mention a certain trade that will also become officially official tomorrow—followed by yesterday’s flurry of signings. Without further adieu, let’s get you caught up before today’s activity kicks off.
Shaq Thompson signed a two-year extension to his contract on March 11th that cleared about $5M off of the 2023 cap. His cap hit was to be $24.5M.
Taylor Moton cleared about $10M off of the 2023 cap by restructuring his contract. This was not an extension and Moton remains under contract through the 2025 season.
Xavier Woods opened up approximately $1.6M in cap space by restructuring his contract. This was also not an extension and Woods remains under contract with the Panthers through the 2024 season.
The day one signings
Shy Tuttle was the first free agent to sign with the Panthers. He signed a three-year, $19.5M contract. The team reportedly signed him to be the starting nose tackle in Ejiro Evero’s 3-4 base looks on defense.
Vonn Bell kept the party moving on defense shortly after Tuttle’s signing. The former team captain for the Cincinnati Bengals is now the starting strong safety for the Carolina Panthers. His addition to the team not only shores up the top of the defense, but it also should free up Jeremy Chinn to move closer to the line of scrimmage where has historically done his best work. Bell signed a three-year, $22.5M contract.
Bradley Bozeman is back, as expected. He clearly did not love the Panthers first offer, but did not find much luck on the open market. The center market reportedly has stayed very cold at the start of free agency. Bozeman re-signed with Carolina on a very reasonable three-year deal worth $18M. His signing put the Panthers entire starting offensive line under contract through at least the 2024 season.
Other moves and news
Reports have the Panthers preferring kicker Zane Gonzalez over Eddy Piñeiro. Gonzalez was the surprise kicking talent of 2021 who ended up with a season-ending groin injury during training camp last year. He signed a two-year extension in March of 2022. Piñeiro was the surprise kicking talent of 2022 who is currently an unrestricted free agent. Carolina is reportedly open to bringing Piñeiro back on a small deal if he doesn’t garner interest with another team.
Piñeiro was tied in 2022 for the tenth most field goals attempted in the NFL, made the fourth most, and had the second highest field goal percentage, per Pro Football Reference. He is expected to receive some interest from around the league.
In other special teams news, the Panthers tendered restricted free agent Sam Franklin. The contract on the table is a one-year, $2.6M deal that allows Franklin to negotiate with other teams. The Panthers have the right to match any deal offered by another team and thus keep Franklin in Charlotte on that new contract.