The Panthers have converted $9.05MM of star linebacker Luke Kuechly‘s 2019 salary into a bonus, per ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter). The move will create an additional $7.24MM of cap space, which is quite significant given that Carolina was only operating with about $1.34MM in cap room prior to the restructure.
This marks the second year in a row that the Panthers have given Kuechly cash upfront in order to create cap space, which can be a dangerous strategy. But Kuechly, who will turn 28 in two days, remains one of the best linebackers in the league and is coming off his fifth First Team All-Pro bid. Considering his importance to the team both now and for the foreseeable future, these reworkings are likely not too difficult for Carolina to stomach.
The team now has some much-needed flexibility heading into next week’s draft, and their newfound cap space will allow the Panthers to re-enter the free agent market should they be unable to fill their remaining needs with collegiate prospects. Plus, their release of Matt Kalil earlier this offseason will add another $7.25MM to their coffers once the calendar flips to June 1.
Kuechly is under contract through 2021.
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