Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Releasing Wharton the right move -- but a tough one

The Panthers made their first big trim Tuesday as free agency began, releasing steady offensive line starter Travelle Wharton. He started every game at left guard last year but the Panthers apparently plan to replace him more cheaply with veteran guard Geoff Hangartner, who signed a new three-year contract that should be much cheaper.

Wharton will and should find work somewhere else. He's 30 -- which is fairly old but not ancient for an offensive lineman -- and he's a class guy. Wharton was one of those players you like on your team -- never involved in any controversy, no injury issues like Jeff Otah and versatile enough to play guard or tackle. He started 99 games in eight years with Carolina.

But ultimately a good contract caught up to him. Wharton's cap number was too high -- that's all this was. He was set to make $5.7 million in base salary this year and have a cap figure of $7.6 mililon. The Panthers cleared more than $3.8 million in cap space by releasing him.

In the NFL, you pay big money for your left tackle (to protect the quarterback's blind side). Your right tackle and center are also worthy investments, particularly if they are Pro Bowl caliber like Ryan Kalil. But guards are traditionally the place where teams try to get away with a lower-paid player unless the guy is one of the best 3-4 in the NFL at the position. The Panthers have occasionally tried to pay big money to a guard -- anyone remember Mike Wahle? -- and it has rarely seemed to work out.

So this was a necessary move for Carolina, but a tough one. I wish Wharton, the former South Carolina Gamecock, well and imagine he will be on another team's roster before long, because that huge cap number fortunately won't follow him elsewhere.

The Panthers have also reworked Thomas Davis's deal, which they had to do (according to a report by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas). Davis's reworking will save the team another $3.8 million off this year's salary cap.

On a totally different note, here's my column for Wednesday's newspaper about the joy of last-second shots in basketball -- even one shot in particular that I'm sure you never saw.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Could he be signed anew at a lower salary?
This is sad.

Anonymous said...

I agree, why can we not restructure his contract like Davis?

John said...

Maybe they couldn't (not sure what rules might apply in this circumstance) or maybe they tried but Wharton declined.

Cap rules are pretty complicated and some apparently aren't even written down, just ask the Cowboys and Redskins!

J said...

There's one thing not being addressed about Wharton - he isn't very good.

The one year he played left tackle, he was the worst left tackle ever. Once he moved to left guard, he was very good for a while. But his play was slipping. Let's not forget he was a starter on the 2010 team, which was the worst offensive line ever assembled in the history of the sport of football, on any level, in any era. The line wasn't any better last year, but since we have such a great running QB, the line looked better. Kalil is very good, and Gross is decent (glad to hear that he has restructured his deal as well; he isn't good enough to be paid like an elite LT). Other than those two, I'm encouraged to see the Panthers try to redo the O-line.

Now, if we can only get Rivera to stop bringing in all these Charger rejects, we'll be in good shape...

Anonymous said...

Wharton was never any good. Built like a turtle and not as fast

Dr. Jack Kavorkian said...

They could have kept Wharton if they had Gamble lower his salary cap number, as it is WAY OVER INFLATED!

Chris Gamble deserves to be counted no more than $2.5 Million against the cap. Sorry, but when you can't make a tackle, and you are afraid of contact, you don't get paid as much.

Anonymous said...

I read that he was offered a pay cut and turned it down. Didn't leave us much option.

Anonymous said...

It WOULD help IF Hurney didn't handicap the organization by mismanaging the salary cap in the past (i.e. surprise overspending last summer). It's clear GM Hurney has NO foresight to see the consequences of his actions. I hope he doesn't continue to make unreasonable moves, selections or signings...but I'm not going to hold my breath on that. That said, it's not a big deal that we haven't sign BIG NAME free agents, as long as we CAN DRAFT well in ALL rounds of the draft, which Hurney has yet to do.

Anonymous said...

I think it is time for GM Hurney to go myself.

Phil57 said...

The sad part of this is Wharton can sign elsewhere for much less. I don't like Hurney, he's not a football guy...but it's the Cap that sucks.

Anonymous said...

That's messed up.Anybody besides me remember Wharton playing left tackle due to injury, while Delhomme threw those suicide jumpballs to Steve Smith ?

Anonymous said...

Cut Baker too.

Reid said...

Let hope Ryan's brother, Matt, fails to the panthers in the draft, so that they can move Gross to LG.