The Carolina Panthers expected to have under $20 million in cap space this year, which would be the 12th smallest cap space this offseason. However, the team does have some players that if cut would provide them with some immediate cap relief.
2016 Cap Hit: $15,020,000
2016 Cap Savings: $11,000,000
This would be a tough move for the Panthers to make because Charles Johnson has been a key player to this organization. He was drafted by this organization and has played nine seasons for them, with 63.5 sacks over that span.
However, his play saw a significant drop this past season with only three total sacks in 19 games. This sack total is the lowest of his career since his rookie season in 2007 when he didn't have a sack in three games.
GM Dave Gettleman has shown the ability to eliminate the emotional aspect of decisions and over the past two years has cut wide receiver Steve Smith and running back DeAngelo Williams, which has freed up a great deal of cap space. The move to cut Johnson would be the one move that could create the most cap space but would also be the toughest to make.
2016 Cap Hit: $8,500,000
2016 Cap Savings: $8,500,000
The other move the Panthers' could make to create substantial cap space would be to release Jared Allen, a move that would generate no dead money.
The Panthers' brought in the veteran pass rusher during the season to help add depth to the defensive end position, at time they were hit hard by injuries. He started off strong for this defense with two sacks in his first three games however that was the last sack he got this season. He finished the year with out a single sack over the final 12 games.
Now if the front office was to release both Johnson and Allen, it would be a signficiant blow to the team's depth at the position. However, they do have some younger talent with players like Kony Ealy, Mario Addison and Ryan Delaire who could make up for the loss of the two veterans.
2016 Cap Hit: $2,250,000
2016 Cap Savings: $1,750,000
The last three players won't create a ton of cap space individually but collectively could be enough to justify the move. Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards signed a two-year deal with the Panthers last year and provides good depth and veteran leadership at the position.
However, he will be 35 years old at the start of the 2016 season and saw his stats drop signficiantly from 2014. In addition to starters Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short, the defense has depth at the position with Kyle Love and allows the front office to make this move if necessary.
2016 Cap Hit: $1,700,000
2016 Cap Saving: $1,300,000
This is another move that won't create a ton of space but every little bit helps. Nate Chandler joined the Panthers as an undrafted free agent and started his career as a defensive linemen however switched to offensive guard in 2013.
He then started 2014 as the team's starting right tackle however he struggled at the position and has now seen the past two seasons cut short due to injuries. Chandler is currently in Year 2 of a three-year contract extension he signed in 2014 but has not been able to stay healthy. This is a move that makes a great deal of sense to create just a little extra cap space.
Ted Ginn Jr.
2016 Cap Hit: $2,350,000
2016 Cap Saving: $1,500,000
This is probably the least likely of the players on this list to be cut however if the Panthers' did decide to make the move it would open up $1,500,000 in cap space. Ted Ginn Jr. came back to the Panthers last offseason after spending one season with the Arizona Cardinals. He was highly productive for the Panthers with 10 touchdown receptions and was a great addition, especially with the loss of Kelvin Benjamin.
However, the team is expected to have Benjamin back and ready for the regular season. They also have younger talent like Devin Funchess and Philly Brown who could round out the wide receiver corp. Meanwhile, Ginn is getting up there in age and will be 31 at the start of the season. This is a move that appears to be highly unlikely due to how productive Ginn was but the cap space that would be generated could make this move the front office might consider.
*All contract and cap figures courtesy of Spotrac.