The Carolina Panthers have announced that they have picked up the fifth-year option on Derrick Brown’s rookie contract and declined to do so on CJ Henderson’s. This option is a fully guaranteed salary based on playing time and honors that was instituted with the rookie wage scale in the last collective bargaining agreement between the NFLPA and the NFL.
Brown’s option being picked up is no surprise to Panthers fan. The defensive lineman is coming off a career year in which he recorded 67 tackles, one sack, seven batted passes, and one incredibly athletic interception.
Those are already big numbers for a tackle in a 4-3 defense, but the Panthers are expecting more from him going forward as he moves to more of a 3-4 end role in Ejiro Evero’s new scheme. That will give him the opportunity to make more plays on the ball—and against the ball carrier—than his previous block-eating responsibilities.
Brown will make $11,665,000 in 2024 under this contract.
Henderson, unfortunately, is not coming off of a career year. The former ninth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars would have been owed $11,514,000 in 2024 under his fifth year option. The team clearly felt that he did not show enough since they traded for him in 2021 to warrant that kind of contract.
Henderson is currently set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2024 and is expected to be a part of the team this season. He still has the elite athleticism that saw him drafted in the top ten and will be given every opportunity this year to prove the Panthers wrong about his future value.