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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

So, What's Next?

The offseason is, as always, a very fluid situation. It's hard to
totally project the next move or what'll happen.

So, the best we can do is track much of what's happening with internal
free agents.

*Jordan Gross has, obviously, retired.

*Travelle Wharton, who might or might not have been in the team's plans
with 5 or more 2013 starters returning at guard, is also looking at
retirement. I'd wonder, if the team is cap strapped, if there's room
for a $1 million+ veteran there, but I do also believe it would return
stability. This is a wildcard especially if the team decided to throw
one of the guards back out to OT, where many have experience. Including
Wharton, for what it's worth.

*ESPN's David Newton suggests that Mike Mitchell and Ted Ginn are "the
next priorities". That feels like it's agent driven, the only real news
being that their agents say they're talking to Carolina about those
players.

Returning Ginn, a top returner and a decent backup WR, has value, and
since he's a backup, a 2-3 year deal shouldn't be ridiculously
expensive. Assuming Steve Smith returns (and I'm not going to get caught
up in that uncertainty - Smith doesn't really save them anything to not
be here), he and Ginn provide some stability at WR. It locks up special
teams, for one, and adds a known value to the WR puzzle. But, Ginn
isn't guaranteed anything, he could go from being at the top of the
depth chart when he signs to the 4th best guy by draft time.

*It's harder to say on Mitchell. I don't know that I'd directly draw
Newton's parallel from a limited sample size of agent-speak into "this
is what Carolina's interested in". Of the two, it's hard to choose
between he and Captain Munnerlyn. So far, no news on Munnerlyn.
Metrically, Munnerlyn is the more vital piece of the puzzle.

*Ben Hartsock - I bring this up because the team has highlighted how
much he means to the running game, but he's not young and he was hurt
last year. This might be a place where they focus on a blocker. This
isn't about free agent targets, but I could completely see them putting
a buck or two into Bear Pascoe, who's a better receiver, bigger,
younger, plays some fullback, and has that former Giant connection. So
you could interpret that to mean they don't intend on pursuing Hartsock.

As far as I know, there's no real information on anyone else. So,
rumored cuts:

*Charles Godfrey - nothing on this one other than speculation. I think,
if the team can absorb his hit in one year (saving $2.1 million, with no
future cap hit), they might. But, they can assume him as a June cut
($5.1 million savings). Showing my math on that one, there's one more
year of his initial $5 million bonus, and two years of his second-tier
bonus left, for $3 million, after 2014 (those bonuses count anyway, keep
or cut). So, essentially, does Carolina want that $3 million this year,
or next?

*Dwan Edwards - there's a smaller rumbling on this one. Edwards, a
starter in '12, started '13 there, too. He and Colin Cole each played
about 30% of snaps, where rookies Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short both
played 55-60%. But the 'starter' became Cole. Edwards got hurt
mid-season both years. If the team can play Lotulelei and Short
together, have Cole continue to be situational, I wonder if they could
save money on their 4th guy.

That plays against the "keep the strength strong" ideal, but if they
consider Edwards a second string player, would they cut his $1.2 million
salary? He's in the last year of 2 years' contract, so that entire #1.2
million would be savings.

Not unlike Wharton, on most teams $1.2 million or so would be a bargain.
A rookie costs you about $400,000, a vested veteran at the minimum is
not much less than the $1.2 million, so you're really not saving a ton.



So, if Carolina has around $7 million left (I'm not stressing the
details on the full amount, since the media has no handle on it. But
with that as an estimate, the assumption is that Godfrey would cover
Mitchell's first year. If Godfrey's a June cut, of course, that extra
$3 million becomes buying power for something else.

Ginn wouldn't hopefully cost a massive amount - last year he was $1.1
million, and while a longer deal would mean some guaranteed money, it's
spread (and I don't imagine it's going to take a ton to sign Ginn). I
think that's one reason Ginn as a known 3rd/4th WR and return specialist
would theoretically be a priority over Brandon LaFell (who would be a
good 3rd WR). You know he's OK being paid like a specialist instead of
a starter. LaFell might expect to be paid like a starter (and good luck
with that).

Those two moves, if they happened, get you closer. It still leaves WR a
priority, OT and CB as disaster areas, and leaves you hoping you can
come up with other places you can improve.
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