His head coach thinks the defense needs Kawann Short, but will the Panthers front office share that viewpoint?
Short played like somebody who wants a contract extension last season. The defensive tackle racked up 11.0 sacks and forced three fumbles in his third year, a breakout campaign for the 2013 second-round pick and big reason why Carolina made it all the way to Super Bowl 50.
Although the Panthers have yet to oblige, perhaps in part because it was the first time Short really established himself as an interior pass-rushing threat. Now entering the final year of his rookie deal, the potential for his departure looms as the team is attempting to repeat as conference champions.
Fortunately for the Panthers, Ron Rivera doesn’t seem overly concerned. Not only has Short’s contract situation not been a distraction, the head coach believes the front office will see the value in getting something done before the chance to reach free agency hits.
“Somewhere along the line, they’ll get together, they’ll figure it out. I believe they will,” Rivera told the team web site. “He’s too important a player for us, and K.K. likes where he is. We’ll see how it all unfolds.”
Then again, one can never be too sure who the Panthers will see fit to award new contracts too. Just this offseason, they removed the franchise tag from Josh Norman and let the All-Pro cornerback walk away for nothing in free agency, shocking the NFL in the process.
Of course, the current Panthers regime has often valued its front-seven defenders more than those in the secondary, which means Short probably has a better shot at getting paid. On the other hand, if something doesn’t get soon, who knows which way negotiations will turn come next offseason.