Wise accounting gives Panthers cap room

For most of the offseason, the Carolina Panthers had been lugging around the $7.6 million cap figure of guard Travelle Wharton, who was released at the start of free agency.

The Panthers designated Wharton as a June 1 cut, meaning they had to carry the entire amount he was supposed to count until then. That may have prevented the Panthers from making more moves in free agency.

But the upside to this is that they now have a bunch of cap room. Overall, the Panthers saved $4 million in cap space by releasing Wharton. But they’ve saved even more than that in cap room now that June 1 has passed.

I just got the breakdown on how Wharton’s cap hit is being distributed. The Panthers only have to absorb $1.86 million this year, so they freed up almost $6 million. Wharton will also cost Carolina $1.86 million in cap space in 2013.

The Panthers now have $8.383 million in cap space for this year. In the NFC South, that’s second only to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are $15.8 million under the cap with Mark Barron as their only unsigned draft pick.

The Atlanta Falcons are $2.8 million under the cap. The New Orleans Saints have $2.27 million available, but this is a work in progress. The Saints still are trying to work out a long-term contract with quarterback Drew Brees. They also would free up $4.9 million if linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s suspension is upheld.