Matthew Emmons/USA Today

Carolina Panthers Reward Consistency in Contract Extensions

Last offseason the Carolina Panthers didn't have a problem signing their key players to contract extensions. The same can't be said this offseason and it raises the question: What changed?

Last offseason, the Carolina Panthers were able to agree to contract extensions with Cam NewtonLuke KuechlyThomas DavisGreg Olsen and Derek Anderson worth more than $200 million dollars.

The Panthers made it look easy last year, agreeing to new deals with high profile players. This offseason hasn't been the same story with failed negotiations with Josh Norman and now reports that Kawann Short is unhappy with negotiations.

This raises the question then what has changed? The Panthers aren't financially strapped considering they have over $30 million dollars in available cap space according to NFLPA.

The team also showed last year that they aren't afraid to offer top dollar to keep their players as Newton, Olsen and Kuechly are making some of the top salaries at their respective position.

The difference between those negotiations, as well Ryan Kalil's recent extension, is that the Panthers were rewarding top play over a long period of time. Kuechly has been considered a top linebacker almost immediately entering the league and played as such for four years. Davis had three straight 100+ tackle seasons, Olsen consistently improved each year since the Panthers' traded for him.

Even Newton, who may not have been the best at his position, was still playing at a high level and had been to the Pro Bowl twice before he was offered a contract extension.

This isn't the case for Josh Norman and Kawann Short even though both players were coming off incredible seasons. Norman had a meteoric rise last year with four interceptions, two returned for touchdowns, and played like a shutdown corner. 

Norman wanted to be paid as one of the best cornerbacks in the league but the front office wasn't ready to commit to that price tag after Norman had only one full season as a starter under his belt.

Every contract negotiation is different and while Norman and Kawann Short are different, there are certainly some parallels. Similar to Norman, Short only has one incredibly productive season. Prior to 2015, Short only had six career sacks but more than doubled that number last year with 13 sacks, including two in the playoffs.

The other difference is that Short is under contract, at least through the 2016 season, unlike Norman who didn't sign his franchise tag. The Panthers were able to rescind the tag without facing any penalties.

GM Dave Gettleman also values the "hog mollies" and believes building his teams with strong lines. A strong defensive front helps make the secondary better and a player like Short has the potential to be one of those key pieces.

The biggest takeaway from the Panthers' contract negotiations the past two seasons is that Gettleman values consistency and won't be blinded by one great season.

Twitter @BrandonCroce

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