Panthers would benefit from $130M cap

Reports on Thursday that the NFL will raise the salary cap to about $130 million for the 2014 season is good news for the cap-strapped Carolina Panthers.

The extra money could help Carolina sign defensive end Greg Hardy to a long-term deal or at least afford the team the luxury of using the franchise tag on him, which would cost about $12 million.

The extra money also could help the Panthers sign quarterback Cam Newton to a long-term extension. Newton, in the third year of his four-year rookie deal, is eligible to negotiate an extension under the new CBA.

The Panthers have been relatively quiet in talks with Newton and their 21 unrestricted free agents, waiting to hear exactly what they will have to work with when the NFL makes the cap number official.

The $130 million cap is between $2 million and $4 million more than had been projected.

Carolina currently is about $15 million under the salary cap. According to ESPN's Roster Management System, with a $6 million carryover, the Panthers could have had as much as $28 million to play with based on a $128 million cap.

General manager Dave Gettleman and the Carolina staff are in Indianapolis for the NFL combine where sources said they will begin discussions with representatives of their free agents.