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February 24, 2009

Panthers face decisions, cap cuts

PANTHERS_PACKERS_27Now that the NFL scouting combine is winding down, the Panthers have some roster and salary cap work to do prior to the free agency signing period opening Friday.

Here are some of their priorities:

-- Get under the salary cap. The signing of Jordan Gross to a multiyear deal and putting the franchise tag on Julius Peppers with a $16.683 million tender offer means the Panthers need to clear some cap space in order to be under the league maximum of $123 million by Friday.

Players who could be cut include cornerback Ken Lucas (in photo), offensive lineman Jeremy Bridges, wide receiver D.J. Hackett and linebacker Landon Johnson. Cutting those  players would clear about $7.35 million in cap space. (UPDATE 11:55 a.m.: Johnson is staying and is restructuring his contract to save about $1 million in cap sapce, about the same Carolina would have gained by cutting him).

-- Deal with the RFAs. The Panthers have four restricted free agents – tight end Jeff King, defensive lineman Gary Gibson, safety Nate Salley and linebacker James Anderson.

The Panthers must decide by Thursday whether to make them one-year qualifying offers, which would give the team the right of first refusal if another club signs them to an offer sheet. The compensation Carolina would receive for losing the player under an offer sheet is determined by the level of tender given the players.

The Panthers can choose from among four levels:

A $1.01 million offer would require another team to give the Panthers a draft pick from the same round the player was originally chosen. (Anderson 3rd, Salley 4th, King 5th and Gibson was undrafted so there would be no compensation).

A $1.545 million offer would require a team signing the player – if the Panthers didn't match – to surrender a second-rounder pick. For first-round compensation, the offer is $2.198 million, and the highest tender of $2.792 would set the compensation at first- and third-round picks.

Just guessing here, but the Panthers could go to the second-round level in offers to King and perhaps Gibson.

-- The Panthers kept all of their primary free agents off the fully-open market by signing Gross and cornerback Chris Gamble and tagging Peppers.

However, they still have some valuable players who are scheduled to hit the market as unrestricted free agents Friday – deep snapper Jason Kyle, kick returner Mark Jones, backup guard Geoff Hangartner and backup left tackle Frank Omiyale.

Kyle is one of the premier snappers in the NFL. He does his job so efficiently that you hardly notice him, which is the sign of a good snapper.

Omiyale filled in admirably for one game last season when Gross was out with a concussion.

Jones wasn't spectacular, but turned in the Panthers' best performance by a return man since Steve Smith had the job on a full-time basis.

Carolina's other unrestricted free agents are linebacker/special teamer Donte Curry, linebacker Adam Seward and defensive tackle Darwin Walker.

-- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on February 24, 2009 at 08:54 AM | Permalink


Please cut ken lucas, dj hackett and landis johnson, none of those guys earn their money last year..p.s. fox give dwayne jarrett more playing time this year..

Posted by: tim | Feb 24, 2009 9:28:36 AM

Good information charles. How much do they have to cut to be under the cap?

Posted by: PantherHead | Feb 24, 2009 9:30:29 AM

I think it's safe to say Lucas is gone. Richard Marshall is ready to start at corner. We can draft another nickel DB or grab one in FA. We also need to restructure a couple of contracts. DeAngelo Williams needs to be locked up long term. Freeing up some cap space to lock him down for the next 5 years is crutial. Jake's contract needs to be reworked. He's due way to much money this year. Pep needs to be traded. I hate to say it, but he's killing our cap number. No one in this league is worth $250,000 a quarter.

Posted by: Jake | Feb 24, 2009 9:31:29 AM

Landis Johnson? Did he get that name because he was riding a bike on the sideline?

Posted by: BW | Feb 24, 2009 9:33:53 AM

Charles can you tell us what our cap number is at right now

Posted by: JV | Feb 24, 2009 9:41:11 AM

I think Lucas is gone, too. He really seemed to get sloppy as the season wore on. Time to cash in on bringing Marshall along slowly the past few years. I feel better with him and Gamble at the corners than I do with Lucas out there.

Landon Johnson only seemed to remind the Panthers staff how solid of a starter Diggs was. Show him the door, also.

D.J. Hackett takes unnecessary snaps from Jarrett, who has a much bigger upside at this point.

I think the three main names mentioned at the beginning of this article are no-brainers for the Panthers. In a business of constant tough decisions to make, these choices appear to be obvious.

Posted by: Newsinz | Feb 24, 2009 10:04:12 AM

Richard Marshall is ready to start at corner.Are you kidding me?????

Posted by: carolina_boy | Feb 24, 2009 10:11:45 AM

Offer to King/Jason Kyle, kick returner Mark Jones/Geoff Hangartner/Frank Omiyale.

Cut- Nate Salley/James Anderson/Donte Curry, linebacker Adam Seward and defensive tackle Darwin Walker. The CB issue is not resolved I don't think Marshall has what it takes to be a #1 CB so sign FA or use the draft to find a bigger more physical CB ,Marshall is a good nickel CB but every down no.

Posted by: hellfish | Feb 24, 2009 10:24:32 AM

I'm surprised at the few posts that frown at the notion that Marshall is ready to start. Please tell me what you've seen from him that says that he ISN'T ready.

Whoever the Panthers decide to put over there, that player is going to have to be ready to be heavily tested every game. Nobody throws to Gamble's side anymore.

Posted by: Newsinz | Feb 24, 2009 10:41:34 AM

of the players mentioned who actually played significant minutes and those who would have had they not been nicked-up I say

Bridges-goes, is a very solid player, but seems like every yr. there is some sort of off the field situation which doesnt reflect well on the organization nor his comittment to it.

Hackett-goes, lets face it he is one of those unfortuante guys who's body just cannot take the pounding.Exceptional when able to go...but to often he is nicked-up

Johnson-keeper, can cover both OLB positions as a #2 guy...give him another yr to find his grove as a Panther.

Lucas-goes, as much as I do not like saying it (he has contibuted a consistently level of solid play over the past several yrs. if he could have spend the crummy play he had late last season over those yrs fan opinion wouldnt be so harsh...but he most certainly had his worst for last! Not convinced Marshall is a starter...guys are nickel cbs for a reason...thus a top cb should be drafted!!!

Hangartner-keeper, find a way to hang on to him-of all the guys mentioned he is the main guy to work alot of numbers around to keep him...he is way to valuable to let go.

I think is is fair to say that #17 will redo his contract to save the team some $$$'s...I look for him to have one of his best yrs ever in the '09 season. because for the 1st time in a long time his job/position as a starter will be up for grabs...

Posted by: Nebcatfan | Feb 24, 2009 10:44:24 AM

for those of you who say Marshall is ready to start please watch the Arizona game on dvr and then tell me what you think. He was L-O-S-T. He is a nickel corner. The other starting CB will be second only to the Peppers drama.

Posted by: yancey | Feb 24, 2009 10:57:42 AM

I'm not saying that Mrashall wouldn't be able to step it up a notch as a starter, but he really looked lost at times last year. That's not something that you would expect from him in his thrid year. Also, don't forget he's already stated that he wants to be one of the highest paid corners in the league when his deal is up. It may be difficult to resign him.

Posted by: Irony | Feb 24, 2009 11:03:16 AM

Please cut ken lucas, dj hackett and landis johnson, none of those guys earn their money last year..p.s. fox give dwayne jarrett more playing time this year..

I wholeheartedly agree...

Posted by: blackspeak,DC,USA | Feb 24, 2009 12:05:15 PM

Give Marshal a shot, anything would be better than Lucas, and the man is a PLAYMAKER. Peace to everyone on that list besides Landon-exceptional backup and Omiyale if its between him and Hamgartner (cheaper and better). Don't we have Baker locked up long term he is nasty?

Posted by: Respect | Feb 24, 2009 12:14:26 PM

Yeah I would cut Lucas and start Marshall.He made some mistakes last year but there was no blitzing(actually there was and Marshall got a sack and they never used the play again.lol) and we played against some great QBS Ryan(2),Warner(2),Brees(2),Rivers,Garcia.The guy is young and FAST!Cut Johnson,Hackett,and King.Let Dwayne Jarret play more!!! Keep Peppers if any way possible!!!WE got a new defensive coordinator.Hopefully were going to be more aggressive on defense.If not Fox want have a job next year.I truly believe if we blitz more (JON BEASON and THOMAS DAVIS, HELLO).Stop calling stupid non aggressive, no blitz zone plays.THESE GUYS LIFT WEIGHTS TO HIT PEOPLE instead we sit back hoping for a int.While our undermanned front four struggle with 5 or more blockers.AND WE WONDER WHY PEPPERS WANTS TO LEAVE.Horrible play calling .I cant coach but if I did I would throw every thing I got at Warner instead of letting making sit back and play weak d.He would have Beason all on his a_ _!!1Peppers would be moving around so much they wouldn't know what to do!!!And I would definitely put Gamble on a teams premier receiver.But hey.The Talent hasn't left.Lets just hope the horrible play calling has.

Posted by: bryant80 | Feb 24, 2009 12:19:29 PM

save a lot of money and a lot of heartache and cut Jake Delhomme.

Posted by: john | Feb 24, 2009 12:47:59 PM

if the panthers draft a player they better draft a QB,DT,DE,and a CB jake play bad in the playoff, look like it time we need a new QB, the CB, Letting wide receiver open we saw it in the playoff how bad our CB play ,there DT,can't get to the quarterback, look like we need a good DT in the draft if pepper leave they need help at DE

Posted by: Dale | Feb 24, 2009 1:17:28 PM

I do not think we should be cutting Jake first of all. Now I have been all for getting a new QB the last two years but I refuse to call for Jake's release until we have a real replacement. I don't need to sit through a season of Josh McCown...atleast Jake's a proven winner. I agree Marshall was shaky this year, but saying he shouldnt start because he's a nickel corner is crazy. The only reason he's a nickelback is Gamble and Lucas. I don't see us picking up a #1 guy this year, maybe one or two guys to compete, but no guaranteed starter....there's none out there.

Posted by: Bronx Mike | Feb 24, 2009 1:24:26 PM

GET RID OF JAKE!!!!!! He can not win games in a crunch! Yes, he got us to the play offs and then look what he does?????????? Come on guys, what does it take to see this. We will always be an average team with him.

Posted by: Darbi | Feb 24, 2009 1:47:25 PM

I love how people say that Jake cant win the big games, I guess you've only been a Panthers fan for the last year or so.

Dont forget that Jake is the QB that lead this team to the super bowl and an NFC Championship game.

I do agree its time to start looking for his replacement, but do not sit here and say Jake cant play in the clutch. I think its safe to say he's been the best QB in the clutch in the Panthers history. Even with the cards game.

Posted by: joey | Feb 24, 2009 2:08:28 PM

Carolinas secondary was long suspect,matter of fact other than run stuffing the defense was maverage I mean there are some pretty weak teams we played the good ones made the secondary look like a bunch of cubscouts playing h.s football, oh we did play the future superbowl champs anybody remember what they did to are vaunted defense?oh Tampa Bay kind of made us look stupid to,Kris Jenkins had a better year than Peppers, Delohomme please always been a second stringer would he even be with the panthers had not there been smith NO,Smith won at least 2 games by himself,oh yeah everyone knew arizona had one receiver,carolina really coveredlarryf good,

Posted by: mark | Feb 24, 2009 2:20:25 PM

bronx mike: Re: Marshall am just saying that he has been a number 3 cb for the Panthers....up and down as a nickel cb as was the secondary at large by years end. how close marshall was tobecoming a satarter by beating out lucas or gamble for their starting job???? not sure...but i do know that he was the number 3 cb...did not beat out the #1's so I for one am not certain I feel strongly about him playing ever more downs as a starter...up grade the position via the draft if possible with a topshelf cb than let them all battle it out for the starting roles...let the play makers earn the role as starter...don't just pass a starting spot on like it is a seniority right of passage!!!! having said all that....your point is well taken...#31 may be ready for more downs....and yes there may not be anyone put their draft or free agent wise who would be better than he already is...and is becoming

Posted by: Nebcatfan | Feb 24, 2009 2:44:26 PM

Carolina gave Gross a big pay day with his extension, but I think he is an invaluable player for this team as they continue to grow. I think Gamble's contract is the bigger problem. Gamble isn't worth the money and will never be a great corner, maybe 1 Pro Bowl if the Panthers have a Super Bowl type season. Putting aside 50+ million over the next years for him is really going to hinder us locking up DeAngelo, Beason, and others.

Posted by: Panthers Super Fans | Feb 24, 2009 3:16:27 PM

richard marshall sucked last yr. we need to get rid of him too

Posted by: chris | Feb 24, 2009 3:40:41 PM

cut jake delhommmes ass if you want to cut somebody they said he had a bad game not a bad year well so did lucas but your ready to drop him drop jakes ass to he'll do the same thing next season

Posted by: mark | Feb 24, 2009 3:54:51 PM

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