With the Panthers and receiver Steve Smith on a collision course, here’s an important fact to keep in mind: If they cut him, they’ll owe him up to $3 million.
Per a league source, $3 million of Smith’s 2014 base salary of $4 million is fully guaranteed. The guarantee voids only if a $3 million option bonus is exercised in June. And if the option bonus isn’t exercised, the team owes Smith a $3 million non-exercise fee on July 1.
It adds up to a total obligation in cap and cap space of $7 million for 2014. The Panthers can avoid $4 million of it by cutting him before July 1. But they’ll still owe $3 million in guaranteed base salary.
If the contract has offset language for the guaranteed money, the Panthers would get a credit if he plays elsewhere in 2014. Unless a new team will pay him more than $3 million, he’ll get a total of $3 million, with the Panthers picking up the difference between the guaranteed salary and what another team pays.
UPDATE 8:50 a.m. ET 3/11/14: They owe him a full $3 million if he’s cut. Smith contract contains no offset language.