GM's take on NFL's middle-class 'squeeze'

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Texans aren't in an enviable salary-cap situation, with $121,864,346 committed against next year's cap. They aren't alone in the era since the current collective bargaining agreement went into effect.

Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman doesn't have exactly the same problem the Texans do, being about $20 million under the salary cap. But his franchise is saving money for upcoming contracts he'll have to work for quarterback Cam Newton and inside linebacker Luke Kuechly, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. They offered several inexpensive one-year deals last year and might do the same again this offseason.

Money wasn't plentiful for free agents last season, and as Gettleman sees it, it won't be again.

"The problem is the middle class has been completely squeezed," Gettleman said. "You got guys making big money and you got guys making small money. What's happened is 2009 the cap was $129 million. It's 2014 and we're all gonna jump up and cheer if it hits $130 [million]. What hasn't happened yet is the agents and the players don't understand the money isn't there like it used to be. You aren't getting the five to seven million dollar spikes like you were."

"... You're constantly pressing your fanny up against that cap wall. How nice would it be to roll into Indianapolis $25 million under the cap. I'm not saying we're going to be there tomorrow. We're not. But if you're constantly up against the wall, you can't maneuver."

Theoretically you can, it just takes some more creativity.