Panthers GM Gettleman faces tough calls

Dave Gettleman said almost all the right things as he officially was introduced as the general manager of the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday.

He talked about how he’s confident how he can work with coach Ron Rivera and staff the team already has in place. He talked about how his philosophy is similar to that of former general manager Marty Hurney.

“You have to build through the draft," Gettleman said. “You raise your own. You fill in with unrestricted free agents."

And he talked about how his past experiences should help him with the Panthers.

“I’ve learned from some great, great people," Gettleman said. “I feel more than ever with the background I have and the different philosophies I’ve employed and learned from and the different ways there are to build a team that this is absolutely the perfect fit for me."

But the one thing Gettleman didn’t want to talk about was Carolina’s messy salary-cap situation.

“I need more information, very frankly, I’m not going to say something silly," Gettleman said.

All right, let’s give Gettleman some information. The Panthers currently have $131.7 million committed toward a 2013 salary cap that’s likely to be around $120 million.

The Panthers have a bunch of veterans with high salary-cap figures. I left out guys like quarterback Cam Newton, linebacker Luke Kuechly and center Ryan Kalil, who aren’t going anywhere. But here’s a list of guys that Gettleman will have to look at and make decisions on restructuring or releasing:

Gettleman said he soon will begin the process of sitting down with Rivera, the coaching staff and personnel department and making decisions.

“The most important thing you have to do when it comes to the cap is you have to do is put the proper value on the player,’’ Gettleman said. “You get into trouble when you overpay. The litmus test on the cap is when the ink is dry and you’re not happy then you made a mistake.’’

There’s no doubt the Panthers made some mistakes in recent years. While Gettleman emphasized he’ll use a team approach, he said he’s not afraid to make the tough decisions.

“If it’s a situation where I have to make a unilateral decision, that’s part of the gig,’’ Gettleman said.

Gettleman better get used to that in a hurry because Carolina has to make some painful cap decisions between now and March.