Salary cap space
As of March 17, 2021, the Panthers are projected to have $29,832,315 in cap space for 2021.
The Panthers rolled over $4.3 million in 2020 cap space.
March 10 update: The salary cap has been set at $182.5 million.
The Carolina Panthers recorded their third losing season in a row, finishing the year with just five wins. After signing Teddy Bridgewater and padding the receiving corps with Robby Anderson, the offense looked promising. But Christian McCaffrey’s (essentially) season-long injury spell, paired with offensive line weaknesses caused major problems.
After firing general manager Marty Hurney, the Panthers will search for a replacement to better management the roster construction. Carolina has some wiggle room heading into the 2021-22 season, but due to poor management, they will have to find creative ways to address those major offensive line issues.
The NFL powered through its 2020 season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The league played without fans in most stadiums, and limited fans in a handful of locations. The decrease in gate revenue is going to result in a decrease in money shared between the 32 teams. This in turn means the salary cap has been decreased. The NFL has announced an official salary cap of $182.5 million, which is sure to result in some tough choices for many teams.
All salary cap information below comes courtesy of the NFLPA Public Salary Cap Report.
A primary reason for firing Hurney was his generosity to players in positions that don’t historically spell out success in the modern NFL. He gave major extensions to running back Christian McCaffrey and linebacker Shaq Thompson. While both are certainly at the top of their class in each position, the decision to give them these deals has made it harder to focus on crucial offensive line needs.
The Panthers would be wise to try to re-sign tackle Taylor Moton. The 26-year-old is one of the best pass protectors in the league and could cash in as one of the highest paid tackles in the league (potentially around Lane Johnson’s price tag of $18 million). Aside from Moton, three of the Panthers’ four remaining starting linemen are set to become free agents. While drafting offensive linemen is a path that the Panthers are likely to take, the front office could also free up $14.5 million in cap space by cutting defensive tackle Kawann Short.
Unfortunately for Carolina fans, there just isn’t too much wiggle room. And with Curtis Samuel — who is expected to land a salary around $11 million — also set for free agency, it will be hard to keep all of the promising pieces of the Panthers lineup, never mind add the necessary ones for success.