Josh Mansour may have played his last NRL game for Penrith after he was told he would not be in the starting side next season.
The 30-year-old is the longest-serving player at the club but his salary, believed to be around $500,000 a season, is a strain on the salary cap for 2021.
The former Australia and NSW winger has one year left to run on his deal and could play out next season in Penrith's the lower grades after a meeting with coach Ivan Cleary in recent days.
Mansour was told rookie Charlie Staines would get first shot on the wing, meaning he will only play first grade if there is an injury or suspension.
"Everyone loves Saucy, but he will say it himself; it's just what football is like," said Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary on Monday.
"We would love to be able to stay together but there are just people off contract and stuff like that.
"It's just how footy works, especially with the salary cap."
At one point Mansour was the best winger in the competition and is expected to attract plenty of attention on the NRL market for next season.
It comes as the Panthers review their season and begin planning to go one better next year after the 26-20 grand final loss to Melbourne a week ago.
An investment in local youth is the policy for the club with captain James Tamou moving to the Wests Tigers after the Panthers offered him just one more year on his contract.
Mansour, who made his debut for the Panthers in 2012, would be the second player from the grand final side to exit the club.
"That becomes the hard part, especially with the local juniors, everyone is so young," Cleary said.
"Everyone is going through the grades with more money and stuff, that is the hard part of trying to keep everyone.
"I'm just glad I don't have to pick the team."
The Tigers could be a logical place for Mansour to land should Josh Addo-Carr decide not to join Michael Maguire's club.
The Storm winger is now reportedly leaning towards staying in Melbourne for another season despite originally wanting to relocate to Sydney for family reasons.
However, a sticking point in the deal appears to be the Tigers' reluctance to swap a player of Addo-Carr's calibre to Storm such as David Nofoaluma or Tommy Talau.
It could open the door for Penrith to swap Mansour for the NSW winger, but Addo-Carr's asking price of around $500,000 is believed to be too high for the club to reasonably consider under salary cap strain.
Australian Associated Press