BY STEVE REED
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Panthers made sure Kawann Short’s contract situation wasn’t going to end the same away Josh Norman’s did a year ago.
The Panthers signed Short, their franchise player, to a five-year contract extension on Monday, keeping the Pro Bowl defensive tackle with the team through the 2021 season.
The deal is worth $80 million, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team doesn’t release financial terms of contracts.
In 2016, the Panthers had place the franchise tag on Norman, an All-Pro cornerback, only to later rescind the offer after being unable to reach terms on a contract extension. Norman became a free agent and signed a blockbuster deal a few days later with a Washington Redskins, leaving a gaping hole in Carolina’s secondary.
“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.”
The contract puts Short among the top five highest paid defensive tackles in the league.
“That means everything to put myself in this position,” said Short, who said his goal is to become the top player at his position.
Short said he wanted to stay with the Panthers because they took a chance on him with a late second-round pick in 2013 when other teams passed him over.
“They believed in me from Day One,” he said.
The 28-year-old Short has started 41 games in four seasons with Carolina, including all 32 in the past two seasons. He had 55 tackles in each of the past two seasons, and combined for 17 sacks — 11 of those coming in 2015 when he helped the Panthers reach the Super Bowl.
“KK has been very important to what we’ve been able to accomplish on defense,” Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said in a statement. “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.”
Coach Ron Rivera said Short consistently affects the quarterback and is strong against the run.
“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,” Rivera said. “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.”
Short said he planned to celebrate the new contract by working out with his teammates on the first day of the team’s offseason conditioning program.
He was selected out of Purdue by the Panthers in the second round (44th overall) of the 2013 draft.
The Panthers also announced Monday that restricted free agent guard Andrew Norwell and exclusive rights free agents center Tyler Larsen and punter Michael Palardy signed their contracts, taking them off the free agent market.
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