Teams need a slush fund like Panthers

If you're wondering why the Carolina Panthers haven't spent the $4,491,421 they have remaining under the salary cap to fill voids at cornerback, wide receiver and offensive tackle, here's why in two words.

Slush fund.

"You have to have a slush fund," general manager Dave Gettleman said last week at the NFL owners meeting. "You can't spend up to the number."

Well, you can. But if you do you're not in position to sign players in case of an emergency as the Panthers had last season when injuries at guard forced them to add veterans Travelle Wharton and Geoff Hangartner after training camp.

You don't have the luxury of signing players who may be cut from other teams during training camp. There could be better bargains then than there are now.

You also don't have the wiggle room to go ahead and sign defensive end Greg Hardy and/or quarterback Cam Newton to a long-term deal if that is the choosing.

It's just good common business sense for a team trying to escape salary cap jail.

That's not to say Carolina is done with free agency if the right player comes along at the right price. But for the most part the Panthers are focused on the May draft.

Meanwhile, for those that follow the money closely, here's a breakdown of where Carolina is according to ESPN Stats and Information.

They have $56,338,038 committed to the offense, $62,686,064 to the defense and $3,319,670 to special teams for a total of $122,343,772.

Of that, the top 51 that counts toward the salary cap is $114,218,272. Add $19,965,241 of dead money and the total comes to $134,183,513.

With carry over money from last season, Carolina's real cap number is $138,674,934 instead of the $133 million set by the league. That's leaves the $4,491,421 in cap space.

If you want a few more breakdowns, the Panthers have $15,632,450 committed to running backs. That's 12.8 percent of their cap. They have only $5,733,378 committed to wide receivers -- or 4.69 percent -- which should come as no surprise after losing their top four from last season.

On defense, $31,151,396 is committed to the ends compared to $3,995,750 to the cornerbacks. again, no surprise with Hardy counting $13.1 million after getting the franchise tag and Charles Johnson a team-high $16,420,000.

Here's a look at Carolina's full financial obligations, again with the top 51 counting against the cap:

Pos. Player Cap figure

DE Charles Johnson $16,420,000

DE Greg Hardy $13,116,000

TE Greg Olsen $7,800,000

C Ryan Kalil $7,284,000

S Charles Godfrey $7,100,000

QB Cam Newton $7,008,113

RB DeAngelo Williams $6,000,000

RB Jonathan Stewart $4,585,000

LB Luke Kuechly $3,430,528

LB Thomas Davis $3,400,000

RB Mike Tolbert $3,350,000

OL Byron Bell $2,187,000

DT Star Lotulelei $2,182,841

DT Dwan Edwards $2,081,750

PK Graham Gano $1,750,000

WR Jerricho Cotchery $1,700,000

S Roman Harper $1,440,625

OL Amini Silatolu $1,346,483

QB Derek Anderson $1,100,000

DT Kawann Short $1,052,349

LB Chase Blackburn $1,050,000

DS Jeffery Jansen $980,000

WR Tiquan Underwood $925,000

OL Garry Williams $780,000

FB Richie Brockel $755,000

OL Chris Scott $730,000

TE Mike McNeil $710,000

WR Kealoha Pilares $698,878

DE Frank Alexander $687,563

CB James Dockery $660,000

CB Josh Thomas $660,000

LB Mario Addison $645,000

S Colin Jones $645,000

QB Joe Webb $635,000

LB Jason Williams $635,000

CB Antoine Cason $635,000

CB Josh Norman $619,750

OL Edmund Kugbila $609,114

P Brad Nortman $589,670

LB D.J. Smith $570,000

WR Marvin McNutt $570,000

LB A.J. Klein $542,825

OL Nate Chandler $540,000

RB Kenjon Barner $521,450

LB Ben Jacobs $504,000

CB DeAndre Presley $503,500

DE Wes Horton $498,333

CB Melvin White $497,500

TE D.C. Jefferson $496,000

S Robert Lester $495,000

WR Tavarres King $495,000

(Note: This is the top 51 cutoff, but Carolina has nine players at $495,000 so only two will count against the cap)

TE Brandon Williams $495,000

OL Kevin Hughes $495,000

S Anderson Russell $495,000

OL Travis Bond $495,000

OL Phillipkeith Manley $495,000

WR Toney Clemons $495,000

OL Brian Folkerts $495,000

WR Brenton Bersin $429,500

DE Craig Roh $429,500

DT Michael Jasper $429,000

OL Andrew McDonald $426,000

QB Matt Blanchard $425,500

RB Michael Zordich $421,000

CB DeQuan Menzie $420,000

WR R.J. Webb $420,000

OL Oscar Johnson $420,000

DT Linden Gaydosh $420,000

DT Casey Walker $420,000