After opening free agency with a rare shopping spree, the Carolina Panthers are now trying to free up some cash. That process began with punter Andy Lee, who according to the NFLPA’s salary report, has taken a pay cut.
Through a restructuring of the final two years of his contract, Lee’s $3.43 million (2017) and $4.13 million (2018) base salary was turned into $1.0 plus bonuses and $1.1 plus bonuses.
Without getting into the minutia of the restructure, Lee, who missed seven games last season with a hamstring injury, gave back more than $2 million over the final two years of his contract. And the Panthers, who sent Cleveland a 2018 fourth-round pick for Lee shortly before the start of last season, gained some cap room.
According to Over the Cap, Carolina added $808,000 in space for 2017 and $1.93 million for 2018.
Before the restructure, the Panthers could have released Lee and saved a two-year total of $7.57 million. But now the three-time Pro Bowler is pretty much guaranteed to make the 2017 roster, even though the Panthers gave Michael Palardy, who finished 2016 in place of Lee, a one-year tender of $540,000.
If the Panthers want to clear up more space, they could next approach guys like Jonathan Stewart ($8.25 million cap hit in 2017) and Graham Gano ($4.0 million cap hit in 2017).
As of Thursday afternoon, the NFLPA’s Public Salary Report listed the Panthers with $11.61 million in cap space.