Greg Olsen wants his contract restructured. It’s not a secret. He hasn’t made it a thing yet, but when asked about being the 7th overall paid tight end, he’s been honest in his belief that he deserves to be compensated based on his productivity. He’s got a point too. He’s been the league’s most consistent tight end over the past five years. He hasn’t missed a game since becoming a Panther and he is Cam’s favorite target.
At 31, Olsen knows he only has so many years left in the tank and only so much time left to get paid. Olsen’s value is at an all-time high too. Not only has he been amongst league’s best tight ends over the last three years, he’s assumed a leadership role on the team. He’s stepped up both on and off the field, and he knows it. Recently, he told Adam Schefter, “hopefully they feel the same way about we do about my standing here as one of our leaders and more productive players.”
Schefter went on to ask Olsen if he would consider holding out training camp to force the issue. Olsen handled the question diplomatically, stating, “it’s early….but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that we feel very strongly about how we fill about my standing among that totem pole of tight ends.”
While Olsen handled the question carefully, he held firm that he believed a restructured contract was in order. He’s got some real leverage at this point also because Carolina doesn’t have anything behind him if he did choose to hold out. Outside of Olsen, Carolina has Ed Dickson, Scott Simonson, Chris Manhertz, and Eric Wallace. I’d bet few, even Dave Gettleman, could pick any of these guys other than Dickson in a line-up.
If Olsen were to holdout, Carolina would be screwed heading into the season. Panthers GM Dave Gettleman doesn’t like being pressured about contracts, just ask Josh Norman and Jordan Gross, but Olsen holds a lot of cards here.
So, what could Carolina do if contract negotiations with Olsen get muddy? Bringing in a veteran like Gary Barnidge, who many Panther fans have been clamoring for, could be an option. Restructuring Olsen’s deal is probably the best option, but I’m not sure how Gettleman feels about being pressured in this situation.
Barnidge oddly remains a free agent, despite his impressive productivity in any situation. When asked about his status and his productivity, Barnidge stated, “"I do think I'm one of the only tight ends to play with eight different quarterbacks in two years and still be able to put up good numbers. I had six quarterbacks last season and still put up 55 catches for over 600 yards, and I don't know any other tight end who's done that. That's not easy to do. Again, I've had eight quarterbacks throw me the ball in the past two years."
Bringing in Barnidge would signal that negotiations between Carolina and Olsen were souring. It’s not a bad idea if they weren’t either. Barnidge, who was drafted by the Panthers in 2008, was a Pro Bowler just two years ago. Adding him to the roster seemed interesting before Olsen expressed his desire for a new contract. Now it seems like a viable insurance policy. Adding him could be like a married man adding an ex-girlfriend on Facebook too.
By Tony Dunn
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