Since the Rucker deal is in its final year, the team has many options:
- Cutting Rucker outright saves his entire salary and the March bonus.
- Renegotiating the current deal to save the bonus or most of the salary. Cutting Rucker and bringing him back is the most extreme part of this, and risks not being able to bring him back at all.
- Pay Rucker as-is, and find much harder ways to clear cap space, very unlikely at this point.
Also, Julius Peppers' ridiculous $14 million cap hit this year should hopefully be turned into a new deal, including rolling his $3 million incentive bonus for consecutive Pro Bowls into part of a signing bonus. A new deal will be costly - in the range of $8 million, minimum, with the signing bonus likely being tw0-part at minimum totaling at least $15 million. John Abraham received $45 million over 6 years, with a $12.5 million bonus last year, which may be a starting point for negotiations; however, if the team doesn't reach a deal with Peppers before Dwight Freeney signs before or during free agency, that deal will set the bar.
Panthers fans out there should hope for a long, drawn out Franchise Tag and holdout situation between Freeney and Colts GM Bill Polian, if a Peppers deal isn't signed. Carolina has no concern of losing Peppers, however, as his contract