Panthers lock up Kawann Short long term, proving they can keep big-money players

A year ago, the Carolina Panthers rescinded the franchise tag designation on cornerback Josh Norman and watched him walk away to a conference rival. On Monday, the team announced that it was not letting one of its defensive cornerstones follow a similar path.

The news of the team signing defensive tackle Kawann Short to a five-year extension was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter and quickly confirmed by the team. It’s a big win for general manager Dave Gettleman — but also big money for Short.

No Big Short here, it appears. The Panthers are scheduled to pay him $80 million over those five years, although it’s not yet known how much of that money is guaranteed.

Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short was rewarded with a contract extension. (Getty Images)
Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short was rewarded with a contract extension. (Getty Images)

Short recently turned 28 and is in the prime of his career. He fell from 11 sacks during the Panthers’ Super Bowl season of 2015 to six in 2016, but his value to the defense is unquestioned. Head coach Ron Rivera said recently that Short was “too important” not to re-sign.

That likely had a double meaning, as Gettleman came under fire for how he handled the Norman situation and as the team crashed back to earth last season. But it was clear his value for defensive tackles was higher than that of cornerbacks, and the money for Short appears to back that up. Gettleman might have drawn a line in the sand previously, but this deal shows that he can keep an important player happy with a big deal. Don’t overlook the effect that could have on the Panthers’ locker room.

The Panthers placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Short and had until July 15 to sign him to a long-term deal. Getting this done before the draft crosses off one major item on Carolina’s to-do list. Short also had said he was willing to play this season on the franchise tag, wanting to do what he could to stay with the team. Extra kudos for the Panthers doing right by him and getting the deal done, not using that information against him.

Short was a second-round of the 2013 NFL draft, and Gettleman felt then what he feels now about his value.

The Panthers have reshaped their defensive line this offseason, by trading Kony Ealy, re-signing several core players and bringing back Julius Peppers. But more work might be in order up front for Rivera’s defense. The Panthers own the No. 8 pick in the draft — would they go “D” there or help Cam Newton with an offensive piece?

That’s not yet clear, but the Panthers now don’t have to draft as much for immediate need as they did last season when they used three of their first four picks on corners in the wake of Norman’s departure.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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