Latest On Panthers, Kawann Short

Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short revealed Wednesday that he and the team aren’t progressing toward a contract extension, telling Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, “No update as of right now. We’re still taking the time. We still have until the regular season starts, so hopefully we’ll have a decision by then.”

Short does seem optimistic about him and the Panthers reaching a deal, though, despite a report two weeks ago that stated talks between the two sides were “effectively dead.”

Kawann Short

“I feel good about it. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I still have to come out here and play no matter the situation,” said Short.

Whether by the regular season or sometime before free agency next winter, head coach Ron Rivera expects Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman to lock up Short.

“Somewhere along the line they’ll get together and they’ll figure it out,” said Rivera. “He’s too important a player for us, and KK likes where he is. We’ll see how it all unfolds.”

For Rivera’s hope to become a reality, the likelihood is that the Panthers will have to markedly increase their offer. As Jones notes, Carolina would like to re-up Short at roughly $15MM per year. However, considering what fellow standout defensive linemen Fletcher Cox (Eagles) and Muhammad Wilkerson (Jets) signed for earlier this summer, it might take in the $17MM annual range for a Short deal to come to fruition. Cox, Pro Football Focus’ 10th-ranked interior defensive lineman last season, landed a six-year, $103MM extension featuring upward of $55MM in guarantees in June. A month later, Wilkerson – No. 11 on PFF’s list – secured a five-year, $86MM pact with $53.5MM guaranteed for injury.

Short fared similarly to both Cox and Wilkerson in 2015, when he started all of NFC champion Carolina’s games and rated as PFF’s eighth-best interior D-lineman. Along the way, Short led the Panthers’ defense in sacks (11) and forced fumbles (three). That represented a breakout for Short, a 2013 second-round pick from Purdue who combined for nine starts, five sacks and two forced fumbles during his first two seasons.

In the event the Panthers and Short don’t find common ground by next winter, the club would have the option of retaining his rights via the franchise tag. The current cost to tag D-tackles is $13.651MM, which should increase. Nevertheless, something in that neighborhood would be a reasonable sum for Short if he continues serving as a dominant force in the middle of Carolina’s defense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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