Panthers Sign DT Kawann Short To Five-Year, $80.5M Deal Full view

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 17: Kawann Short #99 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 31-24 at the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Panthers Sign DT Kawann Short To Five-Year, $80.5M Deal

The Carolina Panthers signed defensive tackle Kawann Short to a five-year contract on Monday, according to the team’s official website.

Kawann Short (DT) Signs Five-Yera Deal with Panthers

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the deal is worth $80.5 million with $35 million guaranteed. The pact averages $16 million per season, which puts Short’s deal value in the vicinity of Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, and slightly behind the giant salaries of Ndamukong Suh ($19.06 million) and Fletcher Cox ($17.1 million), according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Contract website Spotrac also noted that Short’s first two years, in which the 28-year-old will receive $40 million per Rapoport, will make the defensive tackle the third-highest-paid defensive player in the NFL after Von Miller and Olivier Vernon.

Short, who has played with the Panthers since 2013 when he was drafted as a second-round pick out of Purdue, was hit with a franchise tag in February. The 2015 Pro Bowler is the second Carolina defenseman to be franchise-tagged, after cornerback Josh Norman also received that treatment last year, although Norman’s tag was rescinded. Norman then signed with the Washington Redskins, and the Panthers’ young secondary suffered.

“I knew it wasn’t going to turn it out like [Norman’s situation] because I knew I was either going to sign the [franchise] tender or get an extension,” Short said Monday on a teleconference. “That whole Josh Norman situation, that is still my guy and I talk to him a lot, but I knew it wasn’t going to go that route.”

Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman insisted that Short was more valuable.

“KK has been very important to what we’ve been able to accomplish on defense,” Gettleman told the team’s official website Monday. “In 2013, when we drafted KK, I thought he was the best pass-rushing defensive tackle in the draft, and he’s been able to develop into one of the top young defensive tackles in the NFL. Off the field, KK is a top-notch young man and great representative of our team. I’m absolutely thrilled that we were able to get this deal done.”

Carolina coach Ron Rivera also praised the defensive tackle.

“KK consistently affects the quarterback and is strong against the run,” said Rivera. “The mismatches he creates for us on defense force opponents to be aware of him at all times and give us an edge along the defensive line. He’s a great player, but also a quality young man who has the respect of his teammates in the locker room. He’s everything we’re looking for in a Panther.”

The pact certainly seems like a smart decision. Short, who has never missed a game in his NFL career, recorded 17 sacks over the last two seasons as an interior rusher, and letting him become a free agent would not have helped the Panthers at all.

Although Gettleman has been lauded for the way’s he’s rebuilt Carolina’s roster, he has also angered some of his fans for his hard-line stance on contracts. The GM has often stated the Panthers can’t afford to be shopping “at Tiffany’s.”

“It means everything just to put myself in this position,” Short said. “It comes with hard work and actually the teammates that I have. And believing in God was one of the biggest things as well.

“Just having that drive to be better. That’s what it came down to.”

In his career, Short has compiled 22 sacks, 179 tackles, six forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. The year he was selected to the Pro Bowl (2015) was the year the Panthers finished the regular season 15-1 and reached the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Denver Broncos.

River had formerly stated Short was “too important of a player” for the Panthers not to re-sign.

The 6-foot-3, 315-pound defensive tackle seems to hold the team in equally high regard, partly for giving him a chance when they drafted him in 2013 when other teams passed on him.

“They believed in me from day one,” said Short.

The Panthers attempted to sign Short to a long-term contract last year after he made the Pro Bowl, although the defenseman was seeking a deal worth around $17 million per season. No agreement was reached because Carolina was offering pacts in the $13 million to $15 million range.

CHARLOTTE, NC – JANUARY 17: Kawann Short #99 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 31-24 at the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

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Written by Pablo Mena