PHOENIX Attention, Panthers fans: Dave Gettleman feels your frustration.
The Panthers first-year general manager is frustrated, too.
Taking over a roster that was about $16 million over the salary cap when he was hired in January, Gettleman has spent most of his first free agency as GM cutting players and getting the Panthers below the $123 million cap.
The Panthers released three defensive starters cornerback Chris Gamble, linebacker James Anderson and defensive tackle Ron Edwards while re-signing a handful of backups and special teams players.
Their lone acquisition has been Drayton Florence, a 32-year-old cornerback who started three games for Detroit in 2011.
But Gettleman said he has a plan, and talked about the need for patience.
You cant print money. Everybody in the league knows were up against it. Were trying to figure it out, and we have a plan, Gettleman said Monday at the NFL owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore.
Its just about patience, it really is. Believe me, we are just as frustrated as anybody else by our current situation. However, theres answers out there and we have a plan that I feel good about. When its over, its going to be fine.
We live in an instant gratification society, and I get all that. But at the end of the day, this takes time.
Gettleman did not offer details about that plan, but indicated the Panthers will be more active in the second wave of free agency as the market cools and players salary demands decrease.
The bottom line is its a buyers market. We get that. But at the same time we want to be respectful and you dont want anybody in your building thats upset over getting a low number, Gettleman said. Were just trying to be thoughtful and a little bit maybe for some, too methodical. But were going to be thoughtful and methodical about how we operate.
The Panthers made offers to two defensive starters cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and defensive tackle Dwan Edwards the players viewed as unsatisfactory. Munnerlyn, who started 25 games over the past two seasons, was offered a 3-year deal worth about $5 million, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation.
Munnerlyn became a bigger priority with the release of Gamble, the nine-year veteran who retired three days after being cut. Munnerlyns agent was scheduled to talk with the Panthers again Monday night, the source said.
Gettleman said he thought the Panthers had a punchers chance, to re-sign Edwards and Munnerlyn.
Gettleman would not discuss the contract status of veteran left tackle Jordan Gross, who was asked to take a pay cut to help the Panthers cap situation.
Gettleman said it was awkward cutting Anderson and Gamble because he did not know either player.
By cutting Anderson, the Panthers are putting their faith in veteran linebacker Jon Beason, who has been limited to five games due to injuries since signing a five-year, $51.5 million contract extension two years ago.
Gettleman said he is confident Beason, who is coming off knee and shoulder surgeries, will hold up for a season.
Were pleased with his progress. Hes working extremely hard. Hes a professional, and he wants to play, Gettleman said. At the end of the day Jon Beasons a football player. Thats what he wants. Hes working very hard at his rehab and were very confident that hell be fine.
Signing Florence gives the Panthers a 10-year veteran to mentor young corners Josh Thomas and Josh Norman. Florence, who has 99 career starts, was a starter for the Lions last season before breaking his arm against San Francisco in Week 2 and missing the next seven games.
Gettleman said the addition of Florence helps prevent a position disaster, a phrase he learned from former New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi.
This is not to disparage the ability of Josh Thomas and Josh Norman, its just Drayton Florence is a veteran who knows how to play the game, Gettleman said. Hes a big corner. He can play the nickel. He can still run. Hes tough. Last year he played a game, broke his arm and came back and finished the game.
Regardless of the Panthers cap situation theyre about $3 million under it there will be a lot of unhappy fans if Florence represents the most significant free agent pick-up.
But Gettleman said he anticipated making a few more moves but added an important caveat.
Youre always looking to get better, he said. So well do what we can within our means.