Today, February 15th, marks the first day teams are able to start designating their franchise ag on players who could become free agents. For the Panthers and Kawann Short, it's a road they have been trying to avoid, but may end up crossing before the teams deadline of March 1st.
Short led the Panthers pass rush during the 15-1 Super Bowl year with a break out season of 11 sacks. After a slow start in 2016 he finished strong and was ranked the fourth best defensive tackle in the league (87.7) by Pro Football Focus. He finished 2016 with 30 total tackles, 25 assisted, and six sacks. Comparable enough to his breakout 36 tackle, 19 assisted, 11 sack campaign in 2015.
Many fans feared Short may be the next Dave Gettleman finance victim and that he could walk, mainly after drafting defensive tackle Vernon Butler in the first round of the 2016 draft. But a recent statement by Rivera during Super Bowl week that said otherwise.
"Obviously, we'll probably have to tag him,'' Rivera said. "But if we do, so be it. If not, I think they can get a deal done and I'm pretty optimistic about that because KK is a big part of what we do."
Rivera continued later, "Again, we believe up front is the most important part of your team. You've got to be able to stop the run, rush the passer, and I think KK is one of those guys who has that kind of ability."
The estimated tag for Short at defensive tackle is $13.5 million. Short was believed to be seeking around the $17 million range compared to Philadelphia Eagles Fletcher Cox.
When asked at the end of the season about his situation turning out like Josh Norman's last off season, Short was to quick to end it.
"Me and Josh are two different people," Short said. "We walk two totally different sides of the street, at two totally different places, in two totally different directions."
Short was quick to say he would like to avoid the tag, but would obviously still be a professional about the situation.
With Rivera's comments, fans can probably expect to see Short get tagged sooner rather than closer to March 1st.
Written By Tripp Morgan-Follow Him On Twitter @TrippMorgan6
Article Thumbnail Photo by Jesse Fraetis Photography