Gross's restructured deal will pay him $5.5 million for 2013 and voids the final year of his contract in 2014, the Associated Press reported. Gross, 32, originally was set to make $8.7 million in the upcoming season. The former Utah All-American signed a six-year, $56.4 million contract in 2009 that made him one of the highest-paid offensive linemen in the NFL.
"I came to an agreement that everyone was happy with and allowed me to continue my career in Carolina," Gross told the Associated Press. "I wanted to be a Panther and this contract echoes that sentiment."
In 10 seasons with the Panthers, Gross has consistently been one of the top run blockers in the league. Over the past three years, the 6-4, 305 pound lineman has ranked in the Top 15 in run blocking efficiency among tackles that appeared in at least 75 percent of their team's offensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. In both 2010 and 2011, Gross ranked seventh in run blocking efficiency.
In terms of pass blocking, Gross is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career. The Panthers' starting left tackle allowed seven sacks and 23 hurries in 2012, Pro Football Focus found. A season earlier, opposing rushers defeated Gross only four times on sacks of Cam Newton. In 2010, Gross allowed just 15 quarterback hurries.
When new Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman was hired in January he inherited one of the most precarious cap situations in the league. Before Gross accepted the pay cut, the Panthers were approximately $3.1 million under the salary cap, according to Spotrac.com.
Carolina could look to trade veteran running back DeAngelo Williams to gain additional flexibility. Williams has three years remaining on a five-year, $43 million contract he signed in 2011. In 2013, Williams has a cap hit of $8.7 million. If Williams is released before June 1 he will cost the Panthers $9.6 million in dead money against their 2013 salary cap.
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