On the heels of releasing defensive tackle Kawann Short on Tuesday, Friday the Panthers informed three other players of their departure. Safety Tre Boston, defensive end Stephen Weatherly, and punter Michael Palardy are the recent causalities in Carolina’s push to create more salary cap room for 2021.
Boston will be a post-June 1st release which will save the team about $3.5 million in cap space. The former North Carolina Tarheel had two years remaining on a three-year $18 million extension he signed last season. The Panthers may look to slide versatile Jeremy Chinn to fill Boston’s position.
Weatherly joined the Panthers as a free agent in 2020 signing a two-year, $12.5 million deal. He only played in nine games this past season before ending it early due to finger surgery. In those nine games, the play of the defensive end was less than stellar. Returning rookie Yetur Gross-Matos may get more playtime due to Weatherly’s absence, as long as he can stay healthy. The Panthers could look to the draft to add more depth at that position.
Palardy spent the entire 2020 season on the injured reserve after tearing his ACL in his kicking leg. He has handled punting duties for Carolina since 2016. Back in 2018, he signed a three-year, $7.2 million extension. The move leaves Joe Charlton as the only punter on the roster. Rhule and company may go with Charlton for 2021, but will no doubt bring in competition during training camp. The former South Carolina Gamecock rookie was serviceable last season averaging almost 41 net yards per punt.
With these recent moves, the Panthers are saving close to 20 million in cap space. All together Carolina has $31 million in available space. With that much available, the team could go in a lot of directions. The Panthers might look to re-sign offensive tackle Taylor Moton. Moton is likely going to be franchise tagged this season. If Carolina decides to go that route, the tag will be around $13 million. I believe the team would like to lock down wide receiver Curtis Samuel after the former Buckeye had a stellar year. Of course, they may use the space to pursue Deshaun Watson, if the Texans give in to his requests.