Panthers face decision on Jimmy Clausen

It’s likely we’ll know if Jimmy Clausen has any future with the Carolina Panthers before the end of March.

For now, let’s just say the Panthers are facing a $923,000 question on a reserve quarterback that was not active for a single game last season. That amount is the bonus Clausen is scheduled to receive if he remains on the roster 14 days after the league year starts on March 13.

With the Panthers already needing to shed $9.6 million in cap space before the start of the league year, the decision on Clausen could come before the start of the league year. If the Panthers release Clausen, they’ll clear a little over $1 million in cap space.

It’s obvious Cam Newton is Carolina’s franchise quarterback for the long term. The Panthers do need a backup for Newton and Derek Anderson, who held the No. 2 spot last season and can become an unrestricted free agent.

It’s possible the Panthers could let Anderson walk and keep Clausen as the backup. But it’s obvious Clausen didn’t make a great impression on the coaching staff last season as he fell behind Anderson on the depth chart.

The Panthers drafted Clausen in the second round in 2010 and he was ineffective as a part-time starter in the tumultuous final season of John Fox’s tenure. There are some high-ranking team officials that like Clausen, but those same people may feel a bit sorry about the way his career began and then stalled in Carolina. That, along with the roster bonus, might be a reason the Panthers would be willing to let Clausen go and hope that he can get a fresh start somewhere else.