Because Kawann Short hadn’t yet signed his franchise tag, the Carolina Panthers defensive tackle wouldn’t have been allowed inside Bank of America Stadium on Monday when the rest of his teammates reported for the start of offseason workouts.
But Short did show up, not to sign a one-year franchise tender worth roughly $13.5 million, but to ink a new five-year deal worth a reported $80 million.
“It means everything to put myself in this position,” Short said on a conference call shortly after putting pen to paper.
“From Day 1, (the Panthers) believed in me. From the NFL combine to private workouts, to having conversations with people on staff before I was drafted, we had an understanding and I felt at home before I go here. These guys took a chance on me. I had so many teams pass me up, and to be able to commit to somebody who’s committed to me, you can’t ask for anything better.”
That $16 million per season average makes Short the league’s fourth-highest paid defensive tackle behind Miami’s Ndamukong Suh, Philadelphia’s Fletcher Cox and Buffalo’s Marcell Dareus.
Short, who’s played in all 64 games since the Panthers took him in the second round of the 2013 draft, has 17 sacks the past two seasons, third-most among defensive tackles.
“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,” general manager Dave Gettleman said in a statement. “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.”