Restructuring contracts of veteran trio gives Panthers $7.25 million in cap space

jperson@charlotteobserver.comFebruary 24, 2014 

PANTHERS_FALCONS_014

Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis celebrates the team’s victory over the Atlanta Falcons 21-20 at the Georgia Dome on Sunday. A defensive stop by the Panthers clinched the game and erased some of the painful memories of a year ago.

JEFF SINER — jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

— Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman and salary-cap specialist Rob Rogers are at it again.

The Panthers restructured the contracts of three veterans – center Ryan Kalil, running back Jonathan Stewart and linebacker Thomas Davis – in moves that created about $7.25 million in cap space.

Gettleman asked seven players to rework their deals last offseason after he was hired, including those of Kalil and Stewart.

The Panthers are approximately $29 million under the projected cap of $132 million and could be clearing room to re-sign or put a franchise tag on free-agent defensive end Greg Hardy.

The Panthers also could try to get defensive end Charles Johnson, who has the team’s highest cap number at $16.4 million, to restructure his deal.

The Panthers created more than $3 million in cap space by restructuring Davis’ contract.

As reported last week, the Panthers picked up the two option years on Davis’ deal, but they also added three voidable years on the contract, which now runs through 2018. That allows them to stretch the bonus money over the length of the contract for salary-cap purposes.

Under the terms of the restructured contract, Davis received a $5 million bonus for signing the $16.5 million contract – a figure that includes $1 million salaries for each of the three voidable seasons from 2016 through 2018.

Davis was to make $2.75 million in base salary this year, but now he will make the veteran’s minimum of $950,000. His cap number will dip from $6.82 million to $3.57 million for a savings of $3.25 million.

Davis’ base jumps to $7.25 million in 2015, with a cap figure of $10 million.

This is the fourth time in three years the Panthers have renegotiated with Davis as a result of his injury history and the team’s cap positioning.

Davis, 30, is coming off one of his best seasons, just two years removed from the third ACL surgery on his right knee. He finished with 123 tackles – second on the team behind middle linebacker Luke Kuechly – and added four sacks.

According to the NFL Players Association website, Kalil had his base salary slashed from $4.75 million to $855,000 this year. By converting the remainder to a signing bonus, the Panthers reduced Kalil’s cap number from $10.4 million to $7.3 million.

Stewart, who has missed more than half of the past two seasons with injuries, had his base salary reduced from $1.5 million to $785,000, according to the NFLPA salary figures.

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