PANTHERS STRATEGY & PERSONNEL NOTES

Over the next few weeks, the Panthers will attempt to re-sign potential restricted free agent to a long-term contract as well as try to re-sign potential unrestricted free agent guard Jeno James, tight end Kris Mangum, safety Deon Grant and defensive end Al Wallace.

The Panthers head into this offseason in much better cap shape than previous seasons.

"We certainly don't have to clear out room like we have in the past, some years," Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said. "We have planned to the point we have some room here, but we also have some free agents up that hopefully take some of that space."

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Over the next few weeks, the Panthers will attempt to re-sign potential restricted free agent to a long-term contract as well as try to re-sign potential unrestricted free agent guard Jeno James, tight end Kris Mangum, safety Deon Grant and defensive end Al Wallace.

Don't be surprised if the Panthers make a run at Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Troy Vincent, who has already expressed an interest in signing with the Panthers once he becomes a free agent. Vincent is likely to become a salary cap casualty.

FEELING A DRAFT: The Panthers draft 31st this year so there's no telling what they'll do at this point. But as for positions of need, the team would like to upgrade at wide receiver, cornerback, outside linebacker and on the offensive line, possibly looking for an eventual replacement for Todd Steussie. All of that will largely depend on what the Panthers do in the free agent market.

MEDICAL WATCH: Defensive tackle Brentson Buckner is expected to have his knee scoped and some loose bodies removed from his elbow in the next couple of weeks. Keep an eye on Buckner's injury status next season because nagging injuries appear to be catching up with him.

Meanwhile, linebacker Vinny Ciurciu will have surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder. Safety Mike Minter sprained his foot in the Super Bowl but did not break any bones, Fox said. Fox said Minter won't need surgery this offseason. Fox said he expects to have everyone back for minicamp in June, including the players that went on injured reserve last season like rookie tight end Mike Seidman.


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