The Carolina Panthers have restructured the contract of veteran linebacker Thomas Davis to make sure he stays with the team, while freeing up $3.8 million in salary-cap space, according to a league source.
The Panthers decided not to exercise an $8 million option bonus that was due in three days. Davis has suffered three torn ACLs in the past two years, and the option bonus was built in as a safeguard as Davis came back from his second injury last summer. He suffered the third injury early last season.
Davis' cap figure for 2012 is now a comfortable $2.1 million. In addition to not getting the bonus, Davis took a cut in base salary from $2.25 million to $700,000 for this season.
But Davis can recoup some of the money later in the contract that runs through 2015.
He has a $500,000 option bonus in 2013 and a $2.5 million second option in 2014.
If he's still with the team in 2015, his base salary will be $7.25 million.
Wharton was due a base salary of $5.7 million this season under the NFL salary cap, which necessitated the move.
Panthers general manager Marty Hurney called the decision to release Wharton extremely tough.
"He's been a tremendous player for us and he is a class act," Hurney said. "It got to the point where in the big picture we decided it was a move we needed to make. We placed a June 1 designation on his release, which means we will carry his cap number until June 1, but Travelle is immediately able to negotiate and sign with another team."
Hangartner started all 16 games last season at right guard in his second stint with Carolina. He signed late in the preseason after injuries to other players and played well.
The lineman says "This is where I wanted to be." Hangartner "Luckily we got it worked out. I didn't want to spend free agency hunting for more some money elsewhere when I really like this organization."
Nine Carolina unrestricted free agents hit the open market Tuesday: quarterback Derek Anderson, tight end Jeremy Shockey, wide receiver Legedu Naanee, offensive lineman Mackenzy Bernadeau, linebackers Dan Connor, Jordan Senn and Omar Gaither, defensive end Antwan Applewhite and cornerback Cletis Gordon.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.