Kawann Short

Panthers Extend Kawann Short

The Panthers have signed defensive tackle Kawann Short to a five-year extension, the club announced today. The new deal is reportedly worth $80MM, tweets Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, while $35MM is fully guaranteed, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). $20MM of that guarantee comes in the form of a signing bonus, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (Twitter link). Kawann Short (Vertical)

Short had been assigned the franchise tag, meaning the two sides had until July 15 to work out a long-term deal. He’d expressed a willingness to sign his franchise tender, which would have paid him a fully guaranteed $13.387MM for the 2017 campaign. After staging a short holdout during Carolina’s OTAs in 2016, Short had no plans to use similar tactics this year. The Panthers, of course, rescinded cornerback Josh Norman‘s franchise tag last offseason, but a similar situation won’t play out this year, as Short is now locked up through 2021.

Now earning $16MM annually, Short places third among defensive tackles in yearly salary, just behind Ndamukong Suh and Fletcher Cox. He’ll earn $40MM over the first two years of the deal, tweets Florio. The extension also likely clears a bit of cap room for the Panthers, who won’t be forced to carry Short’s ~$13MM franchise tag on their books in 2016. Any signing bonus included in the pact can be prorated over the life of the deal.

Short, 28, played on nearly three-quarters of Carolina’s defensive snaps in 2016, posting six sacks and grading as the league’s No. 3 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus. The 2015 Pro Bowler has earned positive marks during all four seasons he’s played with the Panthers, grading out as an excellent pass rusher from the inside.

For the Panthers, Short’s extension indicates a continued investment on front four players. General manager Dave Gettleman has used early round picks on Star Lotulelei, Vernon Butler, and Short, signed Mario Addison, Charles Johnson, and Wes Horton to multi-year deals, and inked external free agents such as Julius Peppers in an effort to solidify Carolina’s defensive line.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kawann Short To Sign Franchise Tag Soon

Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short is expected to sign his franchise tender at some point this week, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.Kawann Short (Vertical)

[RELATED: Panthers To Pursue Barry Church]

Short would have been the best interior defender on the open market had he reached free agency, but the Panthers opted to assign him the franchise tag, which will pay Short a fully guaranteed $13.387MM for the 2017 season. Short has expressed a willingness to sign the tender in the recent past, confessing that he wouldn’t take the same stance former Carolina franchise player Josh Norman did in 2016. “I wouldn’t fight it or anything,” said Short, who was unable to reach a long-term deal with the Panthers last offseason.

The 28-year-old Short, who graded as the league’s No. 3 interior defender last season per Pro Football Focus, would have until later this summer to ink an extension with the Panthers after signing the tag. Short earned a base salary of just over $1MM during the 2016 campaign.

Earlier today, Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson became the first 2017 franchise player to sign his tender.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2017 NFL Franchise Tag Players

The deadline to designate franchise or transition players for 2017 has passed. Here’s the rundown of the players that were tagged, plus the candidates that did not receive the designation:

Franchise players (exclusive):

Franchise players (non-exclusive):

*second tag; players receive raise over designated salary for position tender

Candidates who didn’t receive tags:

Panthers Franchise Tag Kawann Short

The Panthers have applied the franchise tag to Kawann Short, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The long-expected move has since been confirmed by Carolina.

Kawann Short

[RELATED: Melvin Ingram, Trumaine Johnson To Be Franchise Tagged?]

Now that Short has been tagged, the two sides will have until July to work out a long-term deal. If they are not able to come to a new agreement, Short will likely play out the 2017 season on a one-year, $13.468MM pact.

Short was ranked No. 3 on PFR’s most recent edition of the Free Agent Power Rankings and was our top interior defender to potentially reach the open market. Unlike former teammate Josh Norman, Short is on record as saying he’s okay with signing the franchise tender. The 28-year-old was the third-best interior defender in the league this season, per Pro Football Focus, and his 87.7 overall score was roughly in line with his 2015 mark, even though he had five less sacks. By PFF’s metrics, only defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Calais Campbell ranked ahead of Short in 2016.

The price tag for a Short extension went up when Fletcher Cox and Muhammad Wilkerson inked lucrative new deals last summer. Carolina would probably like to re-up Short at roughly $15MM per year on a multi-year deal, but it might take an AAV of ~$17MM or more to get something done based on how the market looks now. Even that number could trend upwards depending on how things break in March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ingram, Johnson To Be Franchise Tagged?

Melvin Ingram and Trumaine Johnson are among the players expected to be franchise tagged between now and March 1, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Schefter also lists Kirk Cousins, Le’Veon Bell, Kawann Short as guys who are likely to get the tag. Melvin Ingram (vertical)

While Cousins, Bell, and Short have long been seen as likely franchise candidates, things were less certain when it came to California’s two top free agents. Ingram has racked up 18.5 sacks over the past two seasons, but the Chargers have lots of holes to fill and some believed that the team would direct those resources elsewhere. Johnson, meanwhile, is coming off of a so-so season and the Rams will have to pay a surcharge in order to tag him for a second time.

It’s likely that the latest salary cap projection is playing a role in the decisions. It now sounds like the cap will land somewhere between $166MM and $169MM, up from $155.27MM last year. The one-year franchise tenders are expensive, but they are easier to swallow now that all 32 teams will have a little extra room to work with.

Our most recent edition of the Free Agent Power Rankings had Ingram as the fourth-best free agent on the board. Johnson was outside of the Top 10 but earned honorable mention.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Thursday, March 9th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. After looking at offense, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

[RELATED: Top 2017 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense]

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2017:

Edge defender:

  1. Chandler Jones
  2. Melvin Ingram
  3. Jason Pierre-Paul
  4. Nick Perry
  5. Jabaal Sheard
  6. James Harrison
  7. John Simon
  8. DeMarcus Ware
  9. Lorenzo Alexander
  10. Andre Branch
  11. Julius Peppers
  12. Charles Johnson
  13. Datone Jones
  14. Mario Addison
  15. Dwight Freeney

The Cardinals have already made it abundantly clear that Chandler Jones will see the franchise tag this offseason, and Melvin Ingram and Jason Pierre-Paul are also candidates to be tagged by the Chargers and Giants, respectively. If the latter two are able to hit the open market unfettered, however, they both figure to break the bank. Ingram, Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 edge defender, could be a fit for both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, while JPP will be looking for a long-term commitment after signing consecutive one-year deals.Chandler Jones (vertical)

The rest of this year’s crop of free agent pass rushers is a blend of young defenders searching for their first payday and veterans on the hunt for one last contract. Among the players with youth still on their side, Packers edge defenders Nick Perry and Datone Jones figure to interest different clubs, as Perry is a better match for a 3-4 defense while Jones needs to restart his career as a 4-3 defensive end. John Simon has been overlooked while playing alongside the likes of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus but could represent a hidden gem, while the Dolphins are reportedly prioritizing Andre Branch.

After managing nine sacks over the first nine years of his NFL tenure, Lorenzo Alexander busted out with 12.5 quarterback takedowns in 2016, and now could be looking for a double-digit annual salary. James Harrison and Charles Johnson, meanwhile, look like good bets to return to Steelers and Panthers, respectively, but DeMarcus Ware could be something of a wild card — after missing 11 games in the past two seasons, does the 34-year-old have enough left in the tank? The same could be asked of Dwight Freeney, who at age-37 posted three sacks in a rotational role for the Falcons.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Kawann Short
  2. Calais Campbell
  3. Johnathan Hankins
  4. Brandon Williams
  5. Dontari Poe
  6. Chris Baker
  7. Bennie Logan
  8. Nick Fairley
  9. Alan Branch
  10. Jared Odrick
  11. Karl Klug
  12. Terrell McClain
  13. Lawrence Guy
  14. Earl Mitchell
  15. Stacy McGee

Unlike the edge defender market, the 2017 cadre of interior defensive lineman shouldn’t be overly affected by the franchise tender. Head coach Ron Rivera recently confessed the Panthers will “probably” have to use the tag on Kawann Short, but the rest of the defensive tackles listed here should be able to hit the open market. Of the remaining defenders, Campbell is the best overall player, but given that he’s entering his age-31 season, he may not cost as much as Johnathan Hankins, Brandon Williams, and Dontari Poe.Johnathan Hankins (Vertical)

Hankins is only 24 years old, and though the Giants are trying to retain him along with the rest of their defensive core, the 6’3″, 320-pound mauler should represent an attractive option to a number of clubs this offseason. Williams, too, offers a massive presence on the inside, while Poe could intrigue clubs based on his first-round pedigree and athleticism (though his play hasn’t always matched his potential). The Redskins’ Chris Baker is a solid, well-rounded defensive tackle, and could constitute a consolation prize for teams that miss out on their top targets.

The rest of the class offers an interesting mix of nose tackles (Bennie Logan), interior pass rushers (Nick Fairley, Earl Mitchell), and run stoppers (Karl Klug, Alan Branch), so clubs hoping to bolster their defensive line should find no shortage of options. Jared Odrick recently hit free agency after being released by the Jaguars, while Terrell McClain, Lawrence Guy, and Stacy McGee could be underrated finds for the right team. McClain, for what it’s worth, has already been linked to the Falcons.

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2017 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates

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Starting today, NFL teams will be able to place franchise and transition tags on potential free agents for the first time. While the window for franchise tags is open, most clubs won’t actually tag any players right away.

As our list of important dates for the 2017 offseason shows, the deadline for teams to assign those tags doesn’t come until Wednesday, March 1st. Usually, when it comes to NFL contract discussions, deadlines spur action, so teams will wait until that deadline approaches to officially use franchise tags, once it becomes clear that they won’t be able to strike a longer-term deal yet with their respective free-agents-to-be.

Even though the action might not heat up for a couple more weeks, it’s worth taking a closer look at what to expect during 2017’s franchise tag period. The NFL hasn’t officially announced the salary cap figure for 2017, but former agent Joel Corry of CBSSports.com recently projected the 2017 franchise tag salaries based on a presumed $168MM cap. Here are the expected non-exclusive franchise tag amounts:

  • Quarterback: $21.395MM
  • Running back: $12.377MM
  • Wide receiver: $15.826MM
  • Tight end: $9.894MM
  • Offensive line: $14.444MM
  • Defensive end: $16.955MM
  • Defensive tackle: $13.468MM
  • Linebacker: $14.754MM
  • Cornerback: $14.297MM
  • Safety: $10.961MM
  • Punter/kicker: $4.863MM

(For a refresher on the characteristics of the exclusive and non-exclusive franchise tags, as well as the transition tag, be sure to check out PFR’s glossary entry on the subject.)

Here’s our look at the most likely candidates to be tagged, along with several more outside possibilities:

Virtual Locks:

Chandler Jones, DE, Cardinals: Maybe Jones should headline a category titled “Super Duper Virtual Locks.” In January, coach Bruce "<strongArians said that the Cards would apply the franchise tag to Jones if they were unable to immediately lock him up to a long-term deal. Then, just this week, Cardinals president Michael Bidwill offered additional confirmation of that plan. The $16.955MM tag will be applied to Jones in the next couple of weeks and the two sides will then have until the summer to work out a long-term deal. The odds of a longer pact coming together seem pretty good, considering the Cardinals knew what they were getting themselves into when they traded for Jones last year.

Kawann Short, DT, Panthers: Panthers head coach Ron Rivera admits that Short will “probably” be tagged and, unlike ex-teammate Josh Norman, Short doesn’t have a problem with it. The 28-year-old was the third-best defensive tackle in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus, and the Panthers will gladly pay him ~$13.5MM on a one-year deal. A multi-year agreement could require an average annual value of $17MM, so our early guess is that Short will wind up actually playing on the tender.


Le’Veon Bell
, RB, Steelers: We’ve known for a while now that the Steelers will use the franchise tag on Bell. For all of his off-the-field headaches, Bell still stands as one of the league’s most dynamic running backs and a one-year, $12.3MM deal would suit Pittsburgh just fine. Sometime after the tag is in place, we’re expecting the two sides to agree on a long-term deal. As I wrote in our most recent edition of the Free Agent Power Rankings, Bell will top LeSean McCoy‘s ~$8MM AAV and Doug Martin‘s $15MM in guarantees on a new multiyear pact. Of course, other factors such as cash flow will be pivotal in talks, particularly given the limited shelf life of running backs.
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Panthers HC: Short Will “Probably” Be Tagged

Kawann Short is scheduled for free agency, but the odds are not in favor of him actually getting there. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera admits the Panthers “probably will have to tag” him, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Since making those comments on ESPN, Rivera has clarified his comments, saying only that the tag is an option, not necessarily imminent (Twitter link via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer). Kawann Short

However, my feeling is that this a matter of semantics. The Panthers have likely already huddled up and decided that they will not let Short get near free agency. That means a franchise tag is in Short’s future if a long-term pact cannot be reached.

[RELATED: PFR’s NFL Free Agent Power Rankings]

Short is ranked No. 3 on PFR’s most recent edition of the Free Agent Power Rankings. Unlike former teammate Josh Norman, Short is on record as saying he’s okay with signing the franchise tender.

Short, who turns 28 today, was the third-best interior defender in the league this season, per Pro Football Focus, and his 87.7 overall score was roughly in line with his 2015 mark, even though he had five less sacks. By PFF’s metrics, only defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Calais Campbell ranked ahead of Short in 2016.

Thanks to the deals signed last summer by Fletcher Cox and Muhammad Wilkerson, Short’s asking price has likely increased. Carolina would probably like to re-up Short at roughly $15MM per year on a multi-year deal, but it might take an AAV of ~$17MM or more to get something done based on how the market looks now.

Placing the franchise tag on Short should cost Carolina approximately $13.468MM in 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

PFR’s 2017 Free Agent Power Rankings 2.0

For 30 of the NFL’s 32 teams, the offseason is already underway. Here is the latest installment of our 2017 NFL Free Agent Power Rankings, which is comprised only of upcoming unrestricted free agents, and is ranked by projected guaranteed money. In parentheses next to each player, you’ll find their position in the early January edition of the rankings. For more, check out our master list of all 2017 free agents.

Free Agent Power Rankings 2 (vertical)

1. Kirk Cousins, QB (1): Cousins may not be the best player on this list, but he will come away with the most guaranteed money of any free agent this offseason. Quarterbacks are perpetually in high demand and short supply and as a result Cousins could become one of the league’s three highest paid signal callers. Because Washington has already used the franchise tag on Cousins, a repeat would cost them a whopping $23.94MM for 2017. The belief is that Cousins is seeking that $23.94MM number as an AAV goal. There has been talk of the Redskins shopping their star QB, but the team has since publicly stated its intention of locking him up to a long-term dealKirk Cousins (vertical)

2. Chandler Jones, LB/DE (2): Jones has been an absolute stud ever since entering the league as a first-round pick in 2012. If we go by the numbers at Pro Football Focus, 2016 was actually Jones’ best year to date. This past season, he finished out with a strong 87.4 overall score, tying him for seventh amongst all edge rushers with Houston’s Whitney Mercilus. In the previous four seasons with New England, Jones averaged a 79.38 on PFF. Every team could use a sack machine like Jones, but coach Bruce Arians says the Cardinals will place the franchise tag on him if they cannot agree on a long-term deal. He’s technically ticketed for unrestricted free agency, but it doesn’t sound like Jones is going anywhere.

3. Kawann Short, DT (3): Unlike former teammate Josh Norman, Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short says he won’t have any problem signing the franchise tender if the team tags him. “I wouldn’t fight it or anything,” said Short in early January. In 2016, he turned in his fourth straight 16-game season and ranked as Pro Football Focus’ fourth-best interior defender. Short, 28 this week, also had six sacks on the year. I think the Panthers would be wise to hit Short with the ~$13.468MM franchise tag or sign him to a long-term deal, but there is at least a non-trivial chance of him reaching the open market.

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PFR’s 2017 Free Agent Power Rankings

The regular season is over and, for most teams, the offseason is underway. Here is the latest installment of our 2017 NFL Free Agent Power Rankings, which is comprised only of upcoming unrestricted free agents, and is ranked by projected guaranteed money. In parentheses next to each player, you’ll find their position in the November edition of the rankings. For more, check out our master list of all 2017 free agents.

2017 Free Agent Power Rankings With Text (vertical)

1. Kirk Cousins, QB (1): In 2015, Cousins established himself as a solid NFL quarterback. That summer, the Redskins told Cousins they wanted him to prove it all over again before giving him a monster contract. Cousins was happy to oblige and he has now increased his value even further. After a so-so start to 2016 season, Cousins closed out strong to finish as Pro Football Focus’ No. 8 ranked QB, putting him ahead of notables such as Matthew Stafford, Ryan Tannehill, Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, and Philip Rivers. All of those players have gotten their big pay day and now it’s time for Cousins to join the club. "<strong

2. Chandler Jones, LB/DE (2): Before you start salivating over the idea of Jones joining your favorite team’s front seven, we have some bad news: Bruce Arians says the Cardinals will place the franchise tag on him if they cannot agree on a long-term deal. Whether it’s on a one-year, $16.955MM deal or a multi-year contract that tops Olivier Vernon‘s Giants deal, it sounds like Jones is staying put. Jones, 27 in May, played in all 16 games this year and racked up 11 sacks.

3. Kawann Short, DT (4): Contract talks between the Panthers and Short stalled last summer and Fletcher Cox‘s market-boosting deal with the Eagles didn’t help matters. Short wound up playing 2016 for peanuts ($1.473MM) and he turned in yet another stellar season. Short was the fourth-best interior defender in the league this season, per Pro Football Focus, and his 87.7 overall score was roughly the same as his 2015 mark, even though he had five less sacks. In June, it was said that the Panthers did not want to go too far beyond an average annual salary of $15MM. If he’s not franchised tagged or signed to a long-term deal by Carolina, there are a few teams that will happily go beyond that point.

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