SPARTANBURG — Linebacker Jon Beason became the latest Panthers player to restructure his contract to help the team’s salary-cap situation, signing his reworked deal Wednesday on the eve of training camp.
Beason, who was set to make $5.5 million this year with a $9.5 million cap figure, declined to divulge the terms of his new deal but indicated he will remain under contract through 2016.
General manager Dave Gettleman declined comment.
The Panthers were about $16 million over the cap when Gettleman was hired in January. During his first six months, Gettleman has restructured the contracts of tight end Greg Olsen, offensive linemen Ryan Kalil and Jordan Gross and running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams.
Before the Beason restructuring, the Panthers were nearly $11 million below the cap, according to industry estimates.
Beason said he and agent Drew Rosenhaus approached Gettleman early in the offseason to see where things stood, but the two sides did not begin working on a new deal until recently.
“Obviously, you do what you’ve got to do to help the team,” Beason said Thursday. “Like I told Mr. Gettleman, I’m a football player. I want to play football. That stuff, you guys get worked out, I’ll stick to what I have to do, which is play ball.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Beason’s move was “greatly appreciated,” adding the three-time Pro Bowler was important to the defense.
HGH Testing: Though the kinks are still getting worked out, several Panthers viewed the impending human growth hormone population study as a positive thing for the NFL.
The NFL and the NFL Players’ Association are reportedly finalizing the arrangements for an HGH study that will require blood to be drawn from players for a population study, which would determine naturally occurring HGH levels.
“As far as making the game cleaner, make the game cleaner,” Steve Smith said. “If guys have things to hide, that’s their personal problem. But as far as me and what I’m feeling, I’m not a needle guy, don’t like needles. … But if drawing blood is the way to say I’m clean, I’ll do that.”
Smith expressed concern about the who, when and wheres of the test. Who will take the blood, when will blood be drawn and where will the test take place, Smith asked rhetorically to reporters on Thursday.
He said it’d be unfair to draw blood on the day of practice and then expect a player to go out and perform hours later in the heat with a helmet and pads on.
Olsen echoed Smith’s comments, encouraging whatever was best to level the playing field in the sport while also making sure the testing is done correctly.
“I don’t see why there’s any reason why we shouldn’t do it,” Olsen said. “I guess right now it’s more of a protocol … and I could understand that.
“I think they can figure out a safe and effective way to do it and I think it’d be great for the game. I don’t think we want to fall down the road baseball has with them trying to play catch-up.”
Ship shape: Rivera said everyone passed Thursday’s conditioning test – which included a set of 60-yard sprints – although there are a couple of players who drew concern. One of those was rookie guard Edmund Kugbila, who will do extra conditioning after missing OTAs and minicamp with a knee injury.
Kugbila said his knee feels much stronger and predicted he wouldn’t need long to get in shape.
“Give me two days and I think I’ll be there,” he said.
Party Time: The Panthers will host their Back to Football Kickoff Party at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Wofford’s Gibbs Stadium.
Like every year, the event is free and open to the public. It will take place before the Panthers’ scheduled 6:15 p.m. practice and resume following the end of practice until 9 p.m.
There will be games for kids and their families, music by the band Grand Strand and appearances by the TopCats and Sir Purr.
Homecoming king: Cornerback D.J. Moore, a free agent acquisition during the offseason, figures to have one of the loudest cheering sections Friday at the Panthers’ first practice. Moore grew up in Spartanburg and was a standout at Broome High.
“If I’m not a fan favorite, I’d be upset,” he said.
Moore said he attended the Panthers’ training camp only once, when another Spartanburg native – former running back Stephen Davis – was on the team.
“It was so hot, nobody really wanted to come watch,” Moore said. “So you just stayed at the house.”
Asked if he planned to serve as the team’s tour guide, Moore joked, “Trying to find the fun things to do in Spartanburg is going to be the hard part.”