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A View on How the Panthers Will Deal with the Salary Cap Issues in 2012

Football Outsiders is out and doing Division by Division looks at the salary cap and how it affects each team around the league.

To see about the entire NFC South – click HERE

Here’s the Panthers breakdown, and some of the background on how they think things will play out for the team.

Estimated Cap Space: $4-$5 million over

Unrestricted Free Agents (10):
Derek Anderson, Antwan Applewhite, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Dan Connor, Omar Gaither, Cletis Gordon, Geoff Hangartner, Legedu Naanee, Jordan Senn, Jeremy Shockey

Restricted Free Agents (1):
Geoff Schwartz

Schwartz started 16 games in 2010 before missing all of 2011 with a hip injury. The 2008 seventh-round pick out of Oregon State could be back on an original tender worth $1.26 million in non-guaranteed base salary.

Franchise Tag Candidate: The Panthers lack the cap space and key candidate to use the franchise tag this off-season.

Potential Cap Casualties/Restructures: Linebacker Thomas Davis signed a four-year, $33.2 million contract extension last July. Six weeks later, Davis tore the ACL in his right knee for the third time. While Davis is attempting a comeback, the Panthers are unlikely to exercise an $8 million option bonus that is due on the first or second day of the 2012 league year. If released outright, Davis would clear only $300,000 from the Panthers’ salary cap, so a restructure is the more likely path to reduce his $5.9 million cap number. Wide receiver Steve Smith is entering the final year of his contract and is due $7.75 million in base salary with a cap number of $10.713 million that could be reduced via an extension.

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