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Monday, December 31, 2012

Gross, Gamble

Gamble, Gross At A Crossroads
       With all the talk about Jon Beason and Deangelo Williams potentially departing the team in 2013, it’s time to look at two guys who have done a good job as older former #1 picks, but whose cap numbers either provide a lot of flexibility, or could cost them.

       2013 is season #11 for Gross, signed through 2014.   His initial signing bonus from his 2009 contract ($1 mil prorated) counts no matter what; his option bonus (2010; $10 million) has $4 million left on it, but at this point the 2013 part counts either way.  So, an early cut would cost $2 million, and then save $8.7 million for a net savings of $6.7 million. A June-style cut (where the proration for future years goes exclusively into the next year) makes little sense in this case but would save $2 million more against this year’s cap.

        For anyone who finds it just that easy, it probably won’t be.  Jordan Gross is undoubtedly a guy the team feels is a leader.  He anchors a line that struggled mightily, but outside of the October shenanigans with Cam Newton holding the ball too long?  He’s been pretty good.  Byron Bell struggled with that portion of the season a good bit as well.  Gross’ struggles don’t all amount to Newton’s, but they do figure in the equation.

        So, if you’re interested in keeping Gross, the other option is renegotiation.  Since Gross hasn’t altered this contract at all, it’s fair ground to help both sides out.   Gross would convert a portion of that salary – let’s say $6 million just to make it an even number – and add a 2015 or even 2016 year.  Gross may retire by then, of course, but this is to spread things out.  Going to 2015, that $6 million spreads out to each 2013-15 evenly, and spreads the $6 mil (minus the $2 mil of it that prorates to that year) for a net savings of $4 million. 

       And, in the long run, $4 million and keeping your left tackle is an equation most teams would prefer to take.   Carolina might be able to find a LT for $6.7 million this year, but would then have to neglect another position to do so.
      Same for Chris Gamble.  While at one point Josh Norman looked to be a starter – I’m still not certain what happened lately, to be honest – and Josh Thomas is gaining some ground as well, Captain Munnerlyn is a free agent after the year.  Gamble has been well above average statistically when healthy (few interceptions but he hardly ever gets targeted), but this year was definitely not healthy, going out 4 games in with a shoulder injury.
Gamble will be 30 this upcoming season. His $7.95 million salary is up for grabs; $3 million total of bonus proration for 2013 counts either way. 
         Now, here’s where I deviate from’s numbers.  They have part of that proration as a 2010 bonus, but have it spread 2009-2013.  I would assume it’s 2010-2014.  I’ll also deal with it as such – so I’d have a final $2 million prorated into 2014 that comes due in 2013 if cut.  So that’s $5.95 million saved, if the team parted ways with Gamble.

         But, would they be able to find a corner of that caliber for that amount?   Hard to say.  In the draft, it’d probably cost about that.   In free agency, you could get a starter for that money, but not better. Brandon Carr got $10 million a year last year; Asante Samuel provides a better-case scenario for the money, getting a 3 year deal for $19 million. But, that cost picks.  Again – it’s a situation where you may be able to exchange for similar talent, but it's not that likely. 
         So, the same situation applies.  Adding a year or two onto a newly-30 year old corner for a guy you know?  That’s a viable alternative at this point.  There’s the slash and burn method – gut the team to a level that would prove to more or less waste 2013 completely on a team that hasn’t had a winning season in five years already – that would drop Gross, Gamble entirely, and use those savings to also drop Beason, Williams, and others, while cutting other productive players to simply get under the cap.  That leaves a bare cabinet, something no team would stomach doing or possibly even survive.

         Or, you push some money out, providing potential security on two guys who have been relied on at key positions. 
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