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Monday, February 27, 2012
Panthers: Who's on the hot seat?

By Pat Yasinskas

At the moment, the Carolina Panthers are the only NFC South team that is over the salary cap.

The Panthers are projected to be about $9 million above the cap. We continue our look at which NFC South players are potential cap casualties with a look at some candidates from the Panthers.

Linebacker Thomas Davis is scheduled to receive an $8 million roster bonus soon after free agency opens. But simply releasing Davis only gives the Panthers about $300,000 cap relief from Davis’ scheduled cap figure of $5.9 million. I don’t see any way the Panthers pay Davis, who is coming off his third ACL injury, the roster bonus. But Davis wants to stay in Carolina and the Panthers like him. Both sides could be willing to work out a new deal that waives the bonus and lowers Davis’ cap figure.

Veteran guard Travelle Wharton has been a solid player throughout his time in Carolina. But Wharton is scheduled to count $7.6 million against the cap. The Panthers could free up almost $4 million by releasing him. Wharton turns 31 in May and the Panthers have some younger offensive linemen that have promise.

The Panthers also could make some changes in their kicking game to free up some cap space. Kicker Olindo Mare was a disappointment last year. The Panthers wouldn’t save much ($300,000) by releasing him, but they’re in a situation where every penny counts. Punter Jason Baker also had a disappointing 2011 season. He’s scheduled to count almost $2 million against the cap and the Panthers could free up $1.7 million by releasing him.