Last year, the Carolina Panthers were focused on extending the contracts of their core players, which included Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis. This offseason has not gone as smoothly as they failed to reach an extension with cornerback Josh Norman and since then have focused on defensive tackle Kawann Short.
According to ESPN's David Newton, the two sides have decided to take a break from negotiations however Short emphasized the word temporarily. “If it happens, it happens, but we haven’t focused on that," Short said of a new deal. “I’ve still got a lot I need to do. I’ve put myself in the position, but at the same time, I’m not where I want to be. We’re not rushing the issue."
There are certainly similarities between Norman and Short, mainly in the fact that both are discussing contracts after having one productive year. Entering 2015, Short had 70 total tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles and four passes defended in his first two years in the league. However, last year he almost matched, or surpassed, almost all his career totals with 55 total tackles, 11 sacks, three forced fumbles and four passes defended.
The difference in these negotiations versus Norman's may lie in Dave Gettleman's philosophy for building teams. It is no secret that he values his hogmollies and puts an emphasis on defensive lines. In his first NFL Draft as GM for the Panthers, he used his first two draft picks on defensive tackles when he selected Star Lotulelei and Short. This past draft he selected Vernon Butler with his first round pick.
If Gettleman is willing to make Short one of the higher paid defensive tackles in the league, he will have plenty of money to work with. According to the NFLPA, the Panthers currently have just over $30 million dollars in cap space.
The break from negotiations shouldn't be a major concern at this point as the two sides have plenty of time to work out a new deal. Gettleman has made it a point not to do any contract negotiations during the season so the team has up until September before their first game against the Denver Broncos. If they are not able to work out a deal, the Panthers could franchise tag Short and give them a few more months to keep him long term.