Damione Lewis was extended before the start of free agency, and a pair of high profile 2005 signings have been cut - Dan Morgan and Mike Wahle - in a move expected to clear more than $6 million.
Lewis was signed to a reported 3 year, $14 million deal this weekend, though official numbers haven't been reported; it's expected that the deal includes a 2008 signing bonus around $4 million, a 2009 roster bonus around $2 million that will likely be rolled into a signing bonus, and a high salary year in 2010. The signing has gained buzz toward the idea that the Panthers will cut Maake Kemoeatu or trade Kris Jenkins, though the move also may simply mean the team will attempt to keep a productive set of defensive tackles (yeah, including Kemoeatu, who helped the team toward finishing 4th in yards/attempt) so they can concentrate on end.
Morgan, a storied draft pick out of Miami, stood for many things in his career - he was, at first, the guy who'd turn it around for both the Panthers' luck in the draft and the figurehead of the offense from 2001 on; after the Seifert regime failed, he was looked upon as the guy who would carry the John Fox defense to respectability; after that, he was simply a guy who the team hoped could stay on the field. A shining moment in the Panthers' Super Bowl run aside, the team hasn't received much for their effort. After 2004, Morgan's Pro Bowl year, the team chose to sign him in the 2005 offseason ahead of fellow LB Will Witherspoon, who would up leaving for St. Louis; since, Morgan only chipped in 11 games in 2005, and a total of 4 in 06-07. The emergence of fellow Hurricane Jon Beason as middle linebacker sealed the deal, and Morgan's presence was no longer needed.
Wahle was to be the offensive line's counterpart to Morgan; his 2005 signing was supposed to bring better pass blocking, a better sweep game, and room to run inside. A massive deal of 5 years, $30 million, Wahle was originally thought to be a tackle here, but was always sold as a left guard; this is where he played. Solid play, and a 2005 Pro Bowl, worked out for the Panthers, but rushing struggled in 2006 and 2007, as well as injury in each year, took its toll. The 30 year old guard looks now to be a part of another line revamp, this time as the financing.
Wahle's cut clears $4.1 million - since his deal ran through 2009, only the 2009 proration counts against 2009, since the team set him aside as a June-style cut. The Morgan move clears $3.35 million if it's done the same - if not, it would save about $2.1 million.
As another possible move, the Panthers' top media outlets are buzzing about a possible Deshaun Foster cut, which certainly seems to be a looming possibility. Fans clamoring for a David Carr cut are expectant of a move there as well.