The Carolina Panthers made a pre-draft move this week that has long been expected, restructuring the contract of safety Charles Godfrey.
The bigger question surrounding Godfrey is how effective the seventh-year player will be coming off Achilles surgery that sidelined him for the final 14 games last season.
Godfrey, a starter since Carolina drafted him in the third round in 2008, agreed to a significant pay cut that creates $4 million in cap space. The Panthers now are about $6 million below the cap, giving them room to sign draft picks and the flexibility to bring in undrafted free agents and fill roster spots created by injuries.
Godfrey, 28, had his base salary slashed from $5 million to $750,000, according to contract details obtained by the Observer. He can earn $1.7 million back in roster bonuses – $106,250 for every game he’s on the roster during 2014.
Godfrey was set to count $7.1 million against the cap this year but now has a cap figure of $3.06 million.
His base salaries remained unchanged for the final two years of the deal: Godfrey is due to make $5 million and $5.3 million in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
That could make Godfrey a candidate to be restructured or cut again next year with his fate tied to the health of his Achilles. He ruptured it trying to break up a pass in the end zone during a Week 2 loss at Buffalo last September.
The recovery time for athletes returning from Achilles surgery used to be about a year but now ranges from six to nine months, according to medical industry experts.
Godfrey also faces competition at the position.
The Panthers signed free-agent safeties Thomas DeCoud and Roman Harper during the offseason. They also have safety Robert Lester, who started four games last season as an undrafted rookie. Godfrey can play either safety spot and also is a candidate to play nickel cornerback, a role that has been vacant since March when Captain Munnerlyn signed with Minnesota.