Now For Some Hypotheticals
Assuming the Panthers don’t have any significant cap rollover into 2020, they are currently predicted to have around $40m in cap space; if we take away the $15m or so they are likely to be paying out to players on rookie contracts drafted in 2019 and 2020 that leaves them with around $25m.
However, the Panthers aren’t likely to throw all of their remaining 2019 cap space into one-year deals, and so the Panthers can probably expect about $20m in additional contracts to roll over into 2020. That really doesn’t leave much cap space at all, just $5m, if you hadn’t already done the math in your head. So what’s this cap heaven I mentioned earlier?
Well, for a start, that already accounts for a lot of players. That cap number already includes the 2019 players the Panthers have under contract for 2020, plus the 15 or so draft picks over the next two years. If the goal is just to make it to the 53, the Panthers would be already 44 players towards that goal without including the players signed this offseason – whose cap number has already been taken into account.
So let’s say the Panthers do release Poe, Olsen and Kalil; while that does mean they are now down to 41 players under contract, the flip side of that is they now have the best part of $30m in cap space to play with. And let’s, for the sake of argument, say that the $20m in cap hit rollover from the 2019 free agent class goes towards eight new players – that’s about what the Panthers signed for about that amount in 2018.
Suddenly, you have 49 players under contract and $30m in cap space to work with. That was a lot of work to get here – but that’s a lot of cap space for only a few free agents to fill holes at key positions.
Of course, these numbers are all theoretical, the Panthers could sign one player to a back-loaded deal giving them an even bigger cap hit while increasing the number of players they have to add to throw all of this out of whack. They could chose to keep Poe and Olsen, or even release yet more veteran players, a lot could happen, but it is not unreasonable to expect the Panthers to be in a better place a year from now – especially with all clues pointing to the Panthers being bargain shoppers in free agency this season and relying on the draft to fill their larger holes for 2019.
Of course, the thing I haven’t yet mentioned are the Panthers’ pending 2020 free agents. It’s all well and good having $30m to sign four players but if you are losing four franchise cornerstones, that is a very different matter.
So who are the Panthers 2020 free agents?
Up Next: Looking Ahead