CHARLOTTE While Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and other team officials have been visiting Raleigh looking for funding for stadium upgrades, general manager Dave Gettleman and the front office have been dealing with their own money matters.
The Panthers have restructured the contracts of two offensive starters Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil and running back Jonathan Stewart.
Kalils restructuring, which was written into the contract extension he received in 2011, frees up $3.45 million in salary-cap space for the cap-squeezed Panthers.
Carolina is still about $10 million over the projected $121 million cap, so there is more work to do. A big piece of the process is the expected release of veteran cornerback Chris Gamble, who has a cap figure of $10.9 million.
Kalil, who missed the final 11 games last season following foot surgery, received a $5 million signing bonus. But the Panthers decreased Kalils base salary from $4.75 million to $750,000, which helped lower his cap figure from $9.85 million to $6.4 million.
Stewart, who signed a five-year, $36.5 million contract extension last summer, is one half of the Panthers highly paid backfield tandem that also features DeAngelo Williams. Stewarts new deal was not reworked for cap purposes: It actually raised his cap figure by a little more than $200,000.
By converting option bonus money into guaranteed base salary for Stewart, the Panthers seemed to indicate a willingness to stick with the younger Stewart while casting further doubt on Williams future.
Stewart, who missed seven games last season with ankle issues, will receive a $2.5 million signing bonus. His base salaries of $715,000 this year and $1.5 million in 2014 are guaranteed, while $2.5million of his $4.25 million base in 2015 is fully guaranteed.
The Panthers have $9.6 million in pro-rated bonus money tied up in Williams. If they were to designate Williams as a June 1 cut, they could split that over the next two years with $3.2 million counting against the cap this year and the remaining $6.4 million in dead money counting against the 2014 cap.
The $3.2 million hit this year would create $5 million in cap savings.
Receiver signed: The Panthers have signed wide receiver James Shaw, who was undrafted out of Jacksonville (Ala.) State last year. Shaw, 6-foot and 190 pounds, caught 25 passes for 218 yards in 11 games as a senior.
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