Where's the money? Special teams

July, 14, 2014
Jul 14
8:00
AM ET
Beginning today is an 11-part series on where the money is for the Carolina Panthers.

You'll see how much the Panthers are spending at each position under the 2014 salary cap, where that ranks in the league and get a complete breakdown of what each player will count under this season's cap.

This will give you an idea of how general manager Dave Gettleman has structured the team financially heading into training camp.

As of today, the Panthers have $6,067,076 in cap space, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Gettleman set this aside in case injuries force him to sign other players as was the case last season when he added guard Travelle Wharton after camp or in case players he deems valuable from other teams become available once cuts begin.

Gettleman also wants to keep money available to be in position to sign quarterback Cam Newton, defensive end Greg Hardy and others to long-term deals as their current deals approach expiration.

With that, let's get to the position-by-position breakdown, beginning with special teams:

Total position spending: $3,739,670

Spending vs. league average: 26

Breakdown:
 
Analysis: No big surprise here. The Panthers rewarded kicker Graham Gano for a solid 2013 season with a four-year extension worth $12.4 million. It's a reasonable investment for a team that will rely heavily on its kicker as it plays a field position, ball-control game. Gano was 6-for-6 on field goals of 50 or more yards last season, setting a franchise record and tying the NFL high. His 77.8 touchback percentage was the NFL's highest since 1994. At 26, this secures a key player for a reasonable price. Punter Brad Nortman at his current price is a steal considering he set a team record for gross punting average and net yards last season and was the NFC's special teams player of the month for December when the Panthers needed his kicks to win critical games to clinch the NFC South title. Deep snappers often get overlooked, but not J.J. Jansen, who is coming off his first Pro Bowl year. When you consider 25 teams are paying their special-teams players more, this is a solid investment.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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