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Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Gross, Peppers will force other Carolina moves

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

 Gross
 Peppers

If all goes according to plan, the Carolina Panthers will re-sign offensive tackle Jordan Gross and place the franchise tag on Julius Peppers sometime in the next 24 hours. Then, things could get really interesting.

Making Gross one of the league's top paid tackles likely will cost about $9 million a year and tagging Peppers will cost an immediate $17 million against the salary cap. Assuming Gross' deal gets finalized, the Panthers are going to have to make a series of moves to get under the salary cap.

They are about $10 million under the cap right now, but signing Gross and tagging Peppers would put them more than $20 million over the cap. That's going to lead to some cap-cutting moves and it could get painful.

The most obvious target is cornerback Ken Lucas, who didn't play well the second half of last season and could be getting closer to the end of his career. Cutting Lucas would free up $3.3 million in cap room. Some other potential targets could include offensive lineman Jeremy Bridges, receiver D.J. Hackett, linebacker Landon Johnson and running back Nick Goings.

The Panthers also are likely to restructure the contracts of several veterans to get under the cap.