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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Carolina Cuts Ties With Three, Restructure One

Carolina restructured Landon Johnson and cut three players - Jeremy Bridges, Nick Goings, and DJ Hackett - this week in an attempt to get under the cap. Johnson wasgiven a simple restructure, which saved as much as cutting him; it gives them aveteran backup at LB as they expect to lose veterans Donte Curry and Adam Seward infree agency. The move saves $1 million. Hackett hadn't worked out in Carolina - there were many misguided sources suggesting Hackett would start over Muhsin Muhammad; he predictably got hurt andunderperformed, but was worth signing if for no other reason than to get us through the two game suspension to Steve Smith. The team saves $1.04 million by cutting him. The other two cuts, however, were valuable backups who saved roster spots and hadearned their spots on the field. Goings, an undrafted player out of Pittsburgh, made the 2001 squad as a back, and excelled in the John Fox era with work at both fullback and running back. His 2004 performance, as a 4th string RB, turned inalmost 1000 yards (on a team that had only had two 1000 yard rushers in history atthe time) despite starting only half the year. He had elevated to Special Teams captain over the last few years. They saved $745,000 on the move, suggesting that Goings' play had finally fallen off and wouldn't be the team's top backup at FBwhile also allowing them a backup at RB. The team may be looking at finding a young backup RB who can return kicks and punts. Carolina saved $2.25 million with Bridges, the top backup at OT. With Bridges gone and Frank Omiyale a free agent, the team has its starters (All-Pro Jordan Gross and first round pick Jeff Otah) signed long term, but the team has only second-year practice squad player Geoff Schwartz at OT. The team would need to pickup at leastone additional player for depth. Locking up Geoff Hangartner does become more necessary now as well, to ensure a veteran backup presence on the OL.
The hard part is whether they have the money -they added enough to cover Gross and Peppers by making cuts and restructuring Johnson, but have to clear enough money for restricted free agents (roughly $4.5 million), and then would need to clear money to make any other moves. The team saved a total of $5.035 million on the moves. That, plus the $10 millionthey started with under the cap, and the $8 million saved from a scheduled guaranteeof a Chris Gamble bonus, left them with approximately $23.035 million in space, buthave to add in space for Julius Peppers' tag ($16.68 million) and Gross' contract(assumed to cost around $4.5 million against the cap).
Adding in the $4.5 million for RFA, the team needs around $2.5-3 million before they can be under the cap. They'll need to be under the cap by Friday, February 27.
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