Fletcher Cox deal could complicate things for Kawann Short, Panthers

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Plenty of players will be eye-balling the details of the contract extension the Eagles just gave defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, including a guy who may be the nearest comparison among players in the market for new deals.

And that could set the stage for yet another stare-down over money in Carolina.

Their own young star defensive tackle with a year left on his rookie deal, Kawann Short, reported for minicamp yesterday after sitting out some voluntary OTAs. But how long the peace lasts could depend on how firmly the two sides dig in.

According to Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, “the sense inside the building” is that Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman “won’t go much further than $15 million per season.” He also notes that same sense that Short views himself as more comparable to Cox than to players such as Malik Jackson, who struck it rich in Jacksonville this offseason, if not as rich as Cox.

If that’s the case, Short could well become the Panthers’ next Josh Norman. The Panthers couldn’t reach a long-term deal with their star cornerback last offseason, and let him play out his rookie contract. They eventually franchise-tagged him, but then pulled the deal when Norman refused to show up for offseason workouts and Gettleman got cold feet about spending premium money at what he doesn’t consider a premium position.

Defensive tackles, on the other hand, are central to his plans for building a consistent winner. That’s why he values Short highly, but also why he spent this year’s first-round pick on Vernon Butler and picked up the fifth-year option on Star Lotulelei.

It’s unlikely that Gettleman would let Short walk away the way he did Norman, but if the two sides can’t find some middle ground before training camp, the likelihood that Short would get the franchise tag in 2017 is real.

Short’s absence from OTAs represents the gentlest kind of protest, and he’ll be on the field with his teammates today (rather than getting fined). What’s more interesting is how he handles the possibility of a market-limiting tag next season, after seeing that spoil what had otherwise been a pleasant relationship with Norman.