NFC Notes: Wharton, Panthers, Lions, Saints

The Panthers have already lost one starting lineman to retirement this week, when longtime left tackle Jordan Gross called it a career. Now, left guard Travelle Wharton tells Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer that he’s not 100% sure about his future either. However, it sounds like if he keeps playing, the free agent lineman wants to do so in Carolina.

“I love it here in Charlotte. This is where we want to live,” Wharton said. “If there’s going to be a next year, we have to sit down and talk about it.”

Here’s more on the Panthers and a couple other NFC teams:

  • Steve Smith‘s age (35 in May) and contract ($9MM in dead money, three years remaining) make him a tricky case for the Panthers, as Jason Fitzgerald explores in his latest piece at Fitzgerald thinks it makes sense for the two sides to continue their relationship, but makes some suggestions for how to make the veteran receiver’s contract more tenable for the club.
  • When the Lions inked Matthew Stafford to his long-term contract extension last summer, the team agreed to defer the payment of $17.5MM of his $27.5MM signing bonus. That bill has come due, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, who says the team will pay Stafford the remainder of the bonus this Friday. Glover Quin, Reggie Bush, and Jason Jones will also receive deferred bonus money within the next few weeks, but the lump-sum payments won’t alter the team’s cap outlook.
  • Running back Mikel Leshoure expressed a desire for a bigger role, either in Detroit or elsewhere, and it looks like he may receive that opportunity with the Lions, writes Kyle Meinke of
  • Add linebacker and special teams player Ramon Humber to the growing list of pending Saints free agents who have had early discussions with the club about a new deal, writes Ramon Antonio Vargas of The Advocate.
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