By placing the franchise tag on defensive tackle Kawann Short, the Carolina Panthers ensure the return of their most talented defensive lineman.
In their latest move before free agency begins, the Carolina Panthers placed the franchise tag (per Panthers.com) on highly prized impending free agent, Kawann Short. The move was an expected one, as Short has become one of the most disruptive interior lineman in the league during the past two seasons. With a tumultuous recent history using the franchise tag (Greg Hardy, Josh Norman), this one should go much more by-the-books as both sides will continue to strive towards a long-term contract.
Taken in the second round during the 2013 draft, Short has experienced a patient but consistently ascending rise to become one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. During the 2015 season he posted 11 sacks and three forced fumbles on his way to an All-Pro selection. While experiencing a slight drop off in 2016 to six sacks, Short only got better as a run defender, flashing elite ability to shoot gaps and stifle ball carriers in their tracks.
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While the specific amount owed on the franchise tag will not likely be announced until the Combine, the one year tender is expected to come in at roughly $13.5 million. The finalized amount will be the average of the top-five most lucrative defensive tackle contracts. The two sides will now have until the July 15 deadline to come to a contract agreement.
This move is a logical one in every sense for the Panthers. Short has become a crucial piece of their front seven and easily their most talented defensive lineman, outpacing the development of fellow draftee, Star Lotulelei.
With their 2016 first-round pick, Vernon Butler, waiting in the wings, it will give the team another year to evaluate his progress and determine if he could become a cost effective replacement. For now, the franchise tag guarantees the services of Short for another season, keeping the nucleus of the Panthers defense intact.