Since arriving in Charlotte, Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman has led the organization to three straight NFC South division titles including an appearance in Super Bowl 50. He's built a perennial powerhouse by locking up key core pieces while filling in the holes with veterans on short-term contracts. It's a formula that's worked to perfection and has yet to fail.
That brings us to the Kawann Short contract situation. Short is coming off of the best season of his career as he recorded 11 sacks from his defensive tackle position. He played a key role in the success of the Panthers' defense in 2015 and looks to be developing into an unstoppable force from the interior of the defensive line.
Short is entering the final year of his rookie deal and there has been much talk about whether Gettleman would be able to work out a long-term extension for his defensive tackle. According to reports, Short is seeking a deal in the $17 million per season range that the Philadelphia Eagles gave to Fletcher Cox earlier this offseason. That's a steep price to pay for any non-quarterback and, to this point, it doesn't sound as if Gettleman's willing to pay it.
"The biggest responsibility I have is putting a value on a player. You value the player — this is what he’s worth, and that’s where it is," Gettleman said. "You can’t shop like a drunken sailor, and we’re not going to. . . .
"I’d like to think agents have figured out they can’t scare me; they can’t squeeze me. I’m not going to panic. I’m not going to give money away. It’s a waste of time. But if that’s the attack they want to take, that’s their business. I’m too old. I’ve been around too long to be scared."
While Short has shown the ability to be a dominant player, Gettleman has to be smart with the amount of long-term extensions he hands out and it may be that there won't be one in the cards for Short. Gettleman has a responsibility to the Panthers organization to put the best team he can on the field under the salary cap. If he were to give in and lock up every player whose contract is about to expire, he would be severely tying his hands i.e. Marty Hurney.
Instead of painting himself into a corner with Short, Gettleman went out and drafted Louisiana Tech defensive end Vernon Butler in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. If things don't work out long term with Short, Butler will now have a year to get used to the speed of the NFL game before he's thrust into a starting role in 2017. Gettleman protected himself by selecting Butler, in the likely event the Panthers and Short can't agree to an extension.
In three short seasons, Gettleman has not only built one of the best rosters in the NFL, but he's prepared for the future. The Panthers are built to win for the foreseeable future, with or without Kawann Short.
That's why Panthers fans must trust the Dave Gettleman process.