The Panthers have opened contract extension negotiations with standout defensive tackle Kawann Short, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Because he was a second-round pick in 2013, Short’s rookie deal doesn’t include a fifth-year option for 2017, so he’s set to enter the last year of his contract if he doesn’t sign an extension.
Short, 27, enjoyed a breakout season in 2015, earning his first Pro Bowl nod and starting all 16 of the Panthers’ games for the first time. The Purdue product racked up 11 sacks to go along with 55 tackles, three forced fumbles, and a pair of fumble recoveries. He also added two more sacks and a forced fumble in the postseason.
As PFR’s Dallas Robinson observed in his preview of the Panthers’ offseason, the negotiations between Short’s camp and the team will be interesting. On one hand, the Pro Bowl defender has really only produced at an elite level for one season. However, there’s no reason to think Short’s reps won’t make the case that their client deserves to be paid like Marcell Dareus or Gerald McCoy — those players inked long-term pacts worth $95MM+, making them the highest-paid 4-3 defensive tackles in the NFL not named Ndamukong Suh.
With Josh Norman no longer in the mix in Carolina, the Panthers will have a little extra flexibility to commit to a long-term deal for Short, though the team likely wouldn’t have had a problem making an extension work anyway, given its comfortable amount of cap room.
If the two sides can’t work out a multiyear extension at some point in 2016, Short figures to be a candidate for the franchise tag next offseason. This year, the franchise salary for a defensive tackle was $13.615MM, and that figure will likely get a modest bump in 2017, so Short and the Panthers will both keep that number in mind during contract discussions.
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