Five Carolina Panthers Cut Candidates

Panthers Cut Candidates

The Carolina Panthers need to spend money if they want to get better, but they can’t do that without first addressing some issues with the current payroll. As of this posting, the Panthers are currently $9 million over the salary cap. The Panthers have a few obvious cut candidates, but some of these decisions won’t be easy.

Please note that all of the following salary cap numbers are via Over the Cap.

Top Five Carolina Panthers Cut Candidates, Ranked

Tier 1: Probably Gone

1. Ian Thomas

One year after signing a contract extension that made sense to absolutely nobody, Thomas proved the rest of the world correct in wondering what the Panthers were thinking. The former fourth-round pick had another underwhelming season, finishing as PFF’s 68th-best tight end out of 74 eligible players while only recording 21 receptions for 197 yards and no touchdowns. While he wasn’t quite as bad as a blocker, he’s still worse than fellow tight end Tommy Tremble. If designated as a post-June 1st cut, the Panthers can save $3.1 million in cap space while eating just $3.6 million in dead money.

2. Laviska Shenault

Trading two late-round picks for Laviska Shenault was well worth the risk for the Carolina Panthers. However, after one season, it’s safe to say that Urban Meyer was not the problem with Shenault. The former second-round pick had his worst season to date, recording just 27 receptions for 272 yards and one touchdown while failing to establish himself on a lackluster depth chart. With no guaranteed money left on his contract, the Panthers can release him and save $1.67 million against the cap.

3. Pat Elflein

The NFL is a cold business, and it’s truly unfortunate that Pat Elflein could lose his job due to an injury. However, the fact remains that Bradley Bozeman outplayed Elflein, and releasing the center would save $4.2 million against the cap. Bozeman is set to be a free agent, but there is a real possibility that the Panthers could structure Bozeman’s contract in such a way that it actually leads to a net saving in cap space.

Tier 2: Probably Sticking Around

Deciding to cut the following two candidates would result in additional cap space, and it is possible for the Panthers to go down this route. However, both players still play a valuable role on the team, so if Carolina really needs the cap space, it’s far more likely they restructure an existing contract than cut either of the following players.

4. Damien Wilson

Damien Wilson is a fine rotational linebacker that can get after the quarterback at an acceptable rate. However, if you ask him to do anything else, it probably won’t go well. There is room in the league for guys like that, but is it a role that’s worth $3.6 million in cap space? That’s something the Panthers will have to ask themselves as they start trimming down the roster to get under the salary cap.

5. Marquis Haynes

It feels weird to put Marquis Haynes on a list like this after a career year, but that’s just where the Panthers find themselves if they don’t want to restructure contracts. Haynes is coming off a solid season, recording a career-high five sacks while working as a situational pass rusher. Cutting him would free up $3.05 million in cap space with only $500,000 in dead money, but then the Panthers would need to find another edge rusher, and it’s hard to imagine them finding a better one with that little savings.

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