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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Post-Hardy, Heading To Free Agency

It's more or less assumed, at this point, that Greg Hardy is a member of the team, and that they'll do their absolute best to have a long term deal by the draft (even if not, it appears, it's useful to assume he's a member of the team).

They are left with what the media has tenatively assumed to be about $8 million in space under the cap.  Assumedly, they'll do something with Charles Godfrey, but so far, they haven't.

They also have what appears to remain a very volatile Steve Smith situation.  There are rumors that he's departing the team, possibly after refusing a paycut.  They face a situation where either his 2014 salary is guaranteed, or they convert it to signing bonus, no matter what he does (obviously the team would have to cut him as a June style cut to make that second half more lucrative).

The team needs to deal with RFAs still.  RFA was considered a dead ideal in 2011, with the new CBA making all draft picks a 4 year deal.  But, Carolina's done some interesting things in the undrafted market, sometimes out of necessity.   So, the choice will be, keep these guys at an inflated version of the minimum, or work out something else.  Some RFAs tend to be worth the cost, and others, of course, aren't.

OT Byron Bell might be.  He's not an exceptional player, by any means, but he's the one remaining incumbent tackle.  He's a guy who makes sense to have around.  G Chris Scott not as much - he's a guy who could compete for the RG job, but like C Jeff Byers and (unrestricted?) Garry Williams, the cost becomes a lot for being uncertain if a guy will be a starter.  Then you get into roleplayers like TE Richie Brockel or CB James Dockery.

$1.431 million is the cost to tender an RFA at the 'original' compensation amount.  I wouldn't tender any - but I'd see if Bell would take on a 2 year deal for the minimum plus some guarantees.  But the minimum for these players is $730,000.  The RFA tender, a one year deal, doesn't need to be so high, and no one really uses it for valuable players anymore.

Now, the thing is, at best, if you keep 4 of those guys even at the minimum, you're talking almost $3 million.  Easily, the draft will take up that $4 million remaining, though.  And then you're short a full-on 16 free agent slots.

And you've signed no one. But, that's a bleak view.  Chances are, if anyone does get RFA billing, it will simply be only Bell, and maybe a few will stay on as minimum signings, so count it closer to $2 million.

So, it gets difficult from here.  That's what's ahead.  Upside?  The draft will still provide a shot in the arm.
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