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Thursday, March 1, 2007

Rucker, Delhomme are staying; more decisions soon

Mike Rucker took an outright paycut to stay with the team, dropping a combined $2 million between bonuses and salary; Jake Delhomme renegotiated his deal to convert a roster bonus to signing bonus and moving some salary to signing bonus, saving the team $4 million.

The two moves have the team possibly under the cap as much as $9-11 million, on the eve of free agency, signaling the possibility the team makes some big moves. Carolina needs at least one safety, at least one linebacker, and possibly a tight end as immediate needs.

The team still needs to resolve the contract of Dan Morgan, but if they can't force him to retire, they can afford to take the negative cap situation of his contract now. Cutting Morgan, despite relieving the team of $2.5 million in bonuses and his 2007 salary, still costs the team more than that savings.

The Panthers could pay Morgan the bonus in a signing bonus format instead of roster bonus format (signing bonuses count prorated across the contract; roster bonuses count one year) and cut him in June, taking the full hit of his bonuses in 2008 instead; this move is hasty and unlikely.

It's been rumored in the past few days that, besides Morgan, the team is currently working with Julius Peppers on preliminaries toward a new deal; Chris Gamble, Deshaun Foster, Mike Minter, and Chris Weinke are possibly being negotiated with for cap relief, some of which may be forced by threat of eventual termination.

To this point, an overcrowded but underperforming offensive line has not been dealt with, nor is expected to be dealt with, other than talking to OT Jordan Gross. The team is talking to the player about converting a $5 million incentive clause into bonus, which would save the team $3.3 million. Gross is under contract through 2009 and there's not a great likelihood additional years will be added.
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