Panthers Cap Space: 53-man roster

Like all teams in the NFL, the Panthers are allowed a 90-man roster for the offseason that is eventually cut down to the final 53-man roster. Here’s a look at a possible 53-man roster/depth chart for the Panther’s 2013 season with cap calculations.

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Defensive Line (DE/DT) 9 total
The four DE’s listed should make the cut. Mario Addison seems to be the incumbent 4th DE (besides that, there’s only 4 DEs under contract with published figures). The top 4 DTs will make the cut with the 5th spot open for competition. Fua is slotted as the 5th DT in my list simply for him being drafted and having the highest contract left, but he could easily be unseated by Linden Gaydosh (who Smitty has twice spoken highly of) or even Frank Kearse.

Linebackers (LB) 7 total
The 7 I chose also happen to be the highest paid LB contracts . The only player who might get cut is Jason Williams. He’s at the bottom of the LB depth chart and even missed our 53-man cut last year. He’ll have to battle for his spot in camp to stick as a special teams player.

Defensive Backs (S/CB) 9 total
This group is a wide open competition right now. Instead of taking the 9 highest paid DB’s here, I chose Norman and Campbell (10 & 11) over Jones and Dockery (8 & 9), and this only lowers the cap $86k. You can plug in nearly anyone on the bottom of the DB contracts and it really doesn’t change the numbers that much. This should be one of the highlight groups to watch during camp and preseason to see who earns their spot.

Offensive Line (C/G/T) 9 total
This group is pretty easy to figure out for 7 of the 9 spots. I put Jeff Byers in as the 8th, and Bruce Campbell as the 9th which conveniently represents the top 9 paid contracts of our o-line. The only thing that could change here is if Nate Chandler can push Bruce Campbell for the 4th tackle spot.

Quarterbacks (QB) 3 total
I know some are wondering why Clausen will make the roster — all but $3,000 of his contract is guaranteed. All three will make the roster.

Wide Receiver (WR) 6 total
The top 4 WR’s on this list shouldn’t be a shock to anyone; it’s the last 2 that can be debated. I went with Gettis and Adams strictly out of personal preference. Adams has 73% of his contract “guaranteed”, so he’s safe on my list. And with Gettis — I liked him in 2010, so I’m pulling for him. Armanti and Pilares have been made expendable by Kenjon Barner and Ted Ginn Jr, so I cut them from my list.  But really, once you get past the top 4 WRs you’re talking very little change in cap hits. Should be a fun camp battle for the last 2 spots.

Tight End (TE) 3 total
If you look at what’s behind Greg Olsen on the depth chart, you won’t be very impressed. Ben Hartsock is exclusively a blocking TE, FB/TE Richie Brockel fits into the same category, and Nelson Rosario and Brandon Williams are still works in progress. That being said, we’ll have to see how things play out in training camp. I went with Olsen, Hartsock (the 2 highest contracts) and Brandon Williams for his upside as a catching/blocking TE.

Running Backs (RB/FB) 4 total
DWill, JStew and Kenjon Barner will round out the 3 running backs and Tolbert will be our “FB”. T. Poole and A. Smith will have to find a spot on the practice squad this year to stick around. A true full back that could make the team is UDFA Michael Zordich, he could also contribute to special teams. His highlights are impressive and if we plan to run more traditionally, it might be wise to find a spot for him.

Special Teams (K/P/LS) 3 total
J.J. Jansen has been a reliable long snapper since 2009. Our current kicker and punter are likely to retain their spots against UDFA competition, though neither have impressed the fan base (especially Nortman)

Conclusions
Since most of the highest paid players will make the team, most changes will happen near the bottom salaries (causing minor cap changes). Without any big FA moves, we should come out with almost $12 million in cap carry over to relieve next year’s dead money ($8.7M). 2014 is already scheduled to have $115.4M in cap hits hits + $8.7M in dead money ($124.1M total). This figure doesn’t include the large amount of FA’s that need to be resigned and the 6 future draft picks ($4-5M hit); so the more carry over the better.

What we can hope to see next year are restructures from Beason and Godfrey; if need be, Gettleman could also shift salary to bonus money by restructuring Olsen and CJ (lowers their cap hits).  We are on a tight budget for the foreseeable future, but with a few solid drafts we should be able to undo the damage of the bad contracts of 2011.

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Panther’s O-line: Who will make the cut?

As most Panthers fans know, our offensive line isn’t one of our best assets. The left side looks to be solid going into the season, but the right side could easily disappoint. Below is the depth chart with position “locks” in bold, “battling for a roster spot” in italics, and likely cuts left normal.

Kalil, Ryan C 295 28 7 Southern California
Byers, Jeff C 310 27 2 Southern California
Austin, Thomas C 310 26 3 Clemson
Folkerts, Brian C 303 23 1 Washburn
Silatolu, Amini G 315 24 2 Midwestern State
Hangartner, Geoff G 300 31 9 Texas A&M
Kugbila, Edmund G 317 22 R Valdosta State
Wells, Justin G 316 25 1 Saint Augustine’s
Mobley, Tori G 290 23 R Jacksonville State
Hicks, Hayworth G 336 24 2 Iowa State
Gross, Jordan T 305 32 11 Utah
Bell, Byron T 340 24 3 New Mexico
Williams, Garry T 320 26 5 Kentucky
Campbell, Bruce T 315 24 4 Maryland
Chandler, Nate T 300 23 2 UCLA
Brown, Patrick T 310 26 3 Central Florida

The Panthers carried 9 offensive linemen last year, but so far only 6 have likely solidified their roster spot.

Centers

Kalil – He should be good to go this year returning from his foot injury. His talent and salary ensures his roster spot.

Jeff Byers – The Panthers listed him as a center even though hew saw 4 starts at RG and 3 starts at C. He’s an inside utility man that made the 53 man roster last year, so he should have a good chance to make it again. By no means is he a starter, but he makes for a good depth player.

Guards

Geoff Hangartner – “Piggy” was graded at the bottom of both the RG and C rankings this past season. He started 4 games at RG, and 8 at C following Kalil’s injury. His price tag this year is $1.5M with no guaranteed money, so he would be easy to cut if the team chooses. However, if 4th rounder Edmund Kugbila can’t push Piggy for the starting job (most feel he can’t) then the team might stick with Piggy for “continuity”.

Silatolu & Kugbila – Silatolu should continue to improve while Kugbila needs to show us he was worth the 4th round pick in this year’s draft. If KugZilla can earn the right to start at RG this year, Piggy will become expendable.  Right away cutting him could save $1.5M — but if Kug needs a year to develop, at least he can save us from Piggy’s 2014 salary of $2.5M.

Garry Williams – A guard/right tackle that seems to be hit or miss on the field. In week 7 against the Cowboys he played at RT with Byron Bell inside at RG, but that combination didn’t pan out. However, he did seem to fair well at RG. He carries a $1.25M price tag  that makes him a money saver if cut. If he proves his worth as a utility guard/right tackle, then there’s no reason for him to miss the cut. (made last year’s 53 man roster)

Tackles

The tackle depth past Gross and Bell is a big question mark, especially considering Bell is the starting RT. Bruce Campbell at LT is a complete mystery, Garry Williams hasn’t proven himself as an RT, and Nate Chandler is moving from DT to OT — these 3 are likely battling for the last 2 spots on the o-line.

Left tackle is easily our most pressing need with Gross set to retire and no one to fill his shoes. Bell continues to leave us wanting more at RT, but he will have to do for now.

Overall, I think Garry Williams will be the 7th linemen. From there it’s hard to say between Byers, Campbell and Chandler. I’m sure the coaches know what they’re getting with Byers and Campbell — but if Chandler shows promise at tackle, it will change things around. With Chandler as the 8th, the team would have to choose between having an inside swing-man or an outside only tackle. However, since Chandler is still unproven, it’s more likely at this point that Byers and Campbell will wrap up the 8th & 9th slot.

Who do you think will make the cut? Let us know your thoughts in our comment section!

Who Really Wins The Offensive ROY Award

The Offensive Rookie Of The Year Award is giving out yearly to the top offensive player in the NFL.  To my surprise the position that wins this award the most is not the quarterback but the running back.  The award has been given out 46 times by the NFL since it been introduced in 1967.

Only 7 quarterbacks have every received this award:

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  1. 1970 – Buffalo Bills – Dennis Shaw
  2. 2004 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Ben Roethlisberger
  3. 2006 – Tennessee Titans – Vince Young
  4. 2008 – Atlanta Falcons – Matt Ryan
  5. 2010 – St. Louis Rams – Sam Bradford
  6. 2011 – Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton
  7. 2012 – Washington Redskins – Robert Griffin III

Only 8 Wide Receivers have every received this award:

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  1. 1968 – Detroit Lions – Earl McCullouch
  2. 1976 – Minnesota Vikings – Sammy White
  3. 1984 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Louis Lipps
  4. 1985 – Cincinnati Bengals – Eddie Brown
  5. 1992 – Cincinnati Bengals – Carl Pickens
  6. 1998 – Minnesota Vikings – Randy Moss
  7. 2003 – Arizona Cardinals – Anquan Boldin
  8. 2009 – Minnesota Vikings – Percy Harvin

And for the Running Backs, the position that’s dominates this award:

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  1. 1967 – Detroit Lions – Mel Farr
  2. 1968 – Dallas Cowboys – Calvin Hill
  3. 1971 – Green Bay Packers – John Brockington
  4. 1972 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Franco Harris
  5. 1973 – Minnesota Vikings – Chuck Foreman
  6. 1974 – San Diego Chargers – Don Woods
  7. 1975 – Washington Redskins – Mike Tomas
  8. 1977 – Dallas Cowboys – Tony Dorsett
  9. 1978 – Houston Oilers – Earl Campbell
  10. 1979 – St. Louis Cardinals – Ottis Anderson
  11. 1980 – Detroit Lions – Billy Sims
  12. 1981 – New Orleans Saints – George Rogers
  13. 1982 – Los Angeles Raiders – Marcus Allen
  14. 1983 – Los Angeles Rams – Eric Dickerson
  15. 1986 – New Orleans Saints – Rueben Mayes
  16. 1987 – Miami Dolphins – Troy Stradford
  17. 1988 – New England Patriots – John Stephens
  18. 1989 – Detroit Lions – Barry Sanders
  19. 1990 – Dallas Cowboys – Emmitt Smith
  20. 1991 – New England Patriots – Leonard Russell
  21. 1993 – Los Angeles Rams – Jerome Bettis
  22. 1994 – Indianapolis Colts – Marshall Faulk
  23. 1995 – New England Patriots – Curtis Martin
  24. 1996 – Houston Oilers – Eddie George
  25. 1997 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Warrick Dunn
  26. 1999 – Indianapolis Colts – Edgerrin James
  27. 2000 – Denver Broncos – Mike Anderson
  28. 2001 – Chicago Bears – Anthony Tomas
  29. 2002 – Denver Broncos – Clinton Portis
  30. 2005 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Cadillac Williams
  31. 2007 – Minnesota Vikings – Adrian Peterson

Now with the rule changes favoring the offense, the last ten years we have seen a new position start to take over in winning the Offensive ROY award.  Quarterbacks! QBs have won this award 6 times the last 10 years.  The reason for this is that rookie quarterbacks are now giving a change to play their rookie year without having to worry about losing their heads out there.  The rule changes also help the game develop into more of a passing, high scoring; you can’t hit me kind of game.

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The True Offensive Rookie of the Year

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How unlucky was Andrew Luck to have to start his NFL football career in Indianapolis?  At the time Indianapolis seemed like that famous ship that hit that enormous iceberg and was in the process of getting swallow whole by the great blue sea.  With a record of 2-14, a young quarterback and a new head coach most veteran and young talented players bum rushed life boats trying to get out, before their ship sank.  But not all the superstars decided to abandon their team.  Reggie Wayne was one of the few who decided to stay loyal to the Colts, the team that drafted him in 2001.  This is an important fact because Wayne served as this young quarterback’s safety blanket.

First of all let’s look at the competition, quarterbacks only because this year was a strong quarterback class which had five of them starting on NFL teams.  To be honest this was an excellent class of quarterbacks with Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III and the true Offensive ROY Andrew Luck.  As a reminder this is the first time three rookie quarterbacks took their NFL football teams to the playoffs in the same year.  The first time two rookie quarterbacks dual against each other in the playoffs.  In other words it was a good year for bad teams to become good.

I will break down all three elite quarterbacks so everyone can have a better understand why Luck should have been the ROY.

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Russell Wilson, 24 Years Old – 5’11” – 206 Pound – 3rd Round / 75th Pick 2012
Wilson the Seattle Seahawks quarterback was the biggest surprise this year. He took advantage of opportunity and rose up to lead his team to the playoffs.  Out of all rookie quarterbacks this year, Wilson was the one who advancing the furthest in the playoffs.   But we have to realize he didn’t have to do it on his own.

The Seahawks had the 3rd best running games in the league, rushing for 2,579 yards.  The best scoring defense allowing only 15.3 points a game.   Not trying to take anything from the young talented quarterback but trying to give credit to one of the best defenses and one of the best running backs in the league.  My only question is would Wilson be able to make the playoffs with a less talented team?

Wilson’s 2012 Stats: 3118 Passing Yards, 393 Pass Attempts, 252 Pass Completions, 26 Touchdown Passes, 10 Interceptions, 100.0 Passer Rating, 489 Rushing yards and 4 Rushing Touchdowns.

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Robert Griffin III, 23 Years Old – 6’2” – 217 Pound – 1st Round / 2nd Pick 2012
RGIII the Washington Redskins quarterback was a young man who shined like diamonds under pressure.  This kid was very accurate and made smart choices on and off the field.   With speed and the ability to sit in the pocket and delivered the ball.  This young man made Washington’s decision to trade away multiple draft picks seemed worth it.  But RGIII also had a lot of help to appear in his first playoffs appearance.

The Redskins had the best running game in the league, rushing for 2,709 yards.  Their 6th round pick, rookie running back Alfred Morris was also a candidate for the offense ROY.  Morris was responsible for 60% of the running yards with 13 rushing touchdowns.  This great running game limited the amount of times RGIII was require to throw the ball which took pressure off of him having to dictate his offense.

RGIII 2012 Stats: 3200 Passing Yards, 393 Pass Attempts, 258 Pass Completions, 20 Touchdown Passes , 5 Interceptions, 102.4 Passer Rating, 815 Rushing Yards and 7 Rushing Touchdowns.

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Andrew Luck, 23 Years Old – 6’4” – 234 Pound – 1st Round / 1st Pick 2012
Luck the Indianapolis Colts quarterback was not only a leader the first time he stepped onto the Clots football field, but he was also a gunslinger that didn’t need a horse to plow the way.  This kid could do everything; come from behind at home or away, take command over the offense, run the hurry up offense and scramble just as good as any other quarterback.  Luck not only demonstrated why he was picked first over all but also proved why RGIII was selected second.  It’s plain and simple; Luck took a rebuilding team that was the worst in the NFL to the playoffs with his arm.

The Colts hardly had a running game and what they accomplish running the ball was off the success of Luck throwing ability.  The Colts rushed for 1,038 yards less than the Redskins.  The Colts had to depend on Luck’s arm so much that he set the rookie record for most passing attempts in a rookie season at 627.  Which lead him to set the record for most passing yards in a rookie season at 4,374, passing Newton’s last year’s record by more than 300 yards.  Luck also set the rookie record for most passing yards in a game at 433.  By far this one man show should have won the Offensive ROY, which the NFL ended up giving to RGIII.

luck and RGIII

Then a couple of weeks ago NFL.COM’s, Around The League Editor Gregg Rosenthal released the “Top Ten NFL Quarterbacks 25 or Under” and to no one’s surprise Luck sets on top at number one.  I want to congratulate RGIII for his outstanding year and playing in the playoffs on one leg.  But regardless of what RGIII accomplish, Luck is the True Offensive ROY.

Luck 2012 Stats: 4374 Passing Yards, 627 Pass Attempts, 339 Pass Completions, 23 Touchdown Passes, 18 Interceptions, 76.5 Passer Rating, 255 Rushing Yards, 5 Rushing Touchdowns.

If you are still question why Luck should be the Offensive ROY then go back and watch the video of Lucks comeback game against the Green Bay Packers.  This kid came back in the second half from a score of 3 to 21, by running the hurry up offense.  Luck’s touchdown driven drive ends up winning the game by 29 to 27 with seconds on the clock.   But what made the game so impressing was that everybody knew the colts were going to throw the ball with Luck.  Everybody knew the ball was going to Wayne, but yet Green Bay couldn’t stop them.

Side Note:
This was all done without bring up the name of that guy who left Luck some big shoes.

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The “will Cam be a captain” discussion has begun..

Six days ago, I wrote an article stating that Cam Newton would be voted one of two offensive captains this season.  After yesterday’s press conference with Cam, this conversation started here in Charlotte.

“Newton has to be a captain this year” is what WFNZ debated on air today.  Whether or not Cam becomes a captain, the media is going to have a field day with it.

If he is legitimately chosen by his teammates as captain, the spin is going to be “he isn’t a leader and he doesn’t deserve it” (because let’s face it, to most people Cam can’t do anything right).  And if he’s not, every Cam basher imaginable will be sitting behind their computer monitor blowing up every social network and NFL site possible writing god only knows what.

As a fan, you hope his leadership develops organically, and one shouldn’t expect any different.  I do believe he’ll be selected captain and can become a great leader — but with everything NFL it takes time, not debate, to reveal the outcome.

Will Cam Newton be a leader this season?

There are so many things that come to mind when the name Cam Newton is brought up.  Immaturity, sophomore slump, selfish, “Scam” Newton — but almost no one associates him as “leader”.  It’s fair to not say that because up to this point the perception has been otherwise. The team leaders on the offense have been veterans Steve Smith and Jordan Gross, but from what I can tell, Gross is going to step back in his last year and Cam will easily step up in his place.

Deshaun Foster gets set to run for enough yard...

Deshaun Foster gets set to run for enough yards to put my Fantasy team over the top for this week’s matchup – great to watch him do it person. Monday Night Football, Charlotte, NC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you only paid attention to the first ten games last year where the Panthers started off 2-8, then you missed what seemed to be a bonding of our offense. The game plan that “mad scientist” Rob Chudzinski had been shoving down everyone’s throats was scaled back, allowing for more play-action passing and downhill running.  Instead of a base offense in the read-option, Newton flourished in a power formation where he set a franchise record of 152 pass attempts without an interception. Even more impressive was his improvement of 11TDs-2INTs in the last 6 games over his 8TDs-10INTs in the first 10 games

Coming into his third year, I think it will surprise everyone who is not a Panthers fan to see Cam wearing the C on his jersey. But if you have followed them this offseason.. if you saw those last six games and how the team bonded with him.. if you heard what his teammates have been saying.. if you saw or read the speech he gave in week 17 after the team saved Rivera’s job.. — then come September you won’t shocked at all.

How will the Niners bounce back in 2013 without Crabtree?

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crab...

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree at training camp in Santa Clara, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Passing Game

Lets be honest here, Michael Crabtree is a great player who lead the Forty Niners in receiving yards with 85 receptions, 1,105 yards for 9 touchdowns last year. But with Boldin in town, Manningham back on his feet and Davis running wild, the Niners are not in trouble when it comes to the passing game. That’s not including all the young receiving talent who’s foaming from the mouth waiting for an opportunity.

Lets Keep In Mind

What makes a passing game so great? A great running game!

Who has one of the best running games? The Niners!

The Niners are the best dual threat team in the NFL when it comes to the passing and running game. With that being said, the Niners have one of the best running teams in the NFL with Frank “The Tank” Gore, LaMichael James and don’t sleep on Kendall Hunter.  Lets not forget that the running backs have good hands which allows them to catch out of the back field.  Throw in a great offense line that futures two Pro Bowlers Mike Iupati and Joe Staley.  Still leaves you with a team that is very dangers, even without Crabtree.  We have to remember that this is a team that rush for 2,491 yard last year.

Special Weapon

Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive able to leap tall buildings in a single bound…  Move over Newton it’s Colin Kaepernick!!!  This young man is really good who beholds an arm that’s like a rocket.  This will be his first full off-season to building chemistry with his teammates as the starting QB.  Is he that good, I don’t know go ask a Green Bay fan.  They will tell you not even with Kryptonite could you stop this guy.

The point I’m trying to get across is the Niners will do more then just bounce back.  Maybe this year they will take another step forward and pull off a Superbowl win.  But what do we know, we are only Just 2 Fans?  And the only thing us true fans can do is kick back with our feet on our table, eat some wings while watch Sunday football and cheer for our favorite team.

Give me your thoughts on Crabtree being gone?