SPARTANBURG, S.C. – In the end, Greg Olsen couldn't put himself before the team.
The All-Pro tight end wants a new deal. The only tight end in NFL history with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons feels he's outperformed his current contract, which has two years remaining.
But when examining all the factors, Olsen did what he felt he had to do. He reported to training camp focused on doing his job on the field.
"We thought, obviously, long and hard about everything over the last couple months – our position, the team's position, how things played out and things changed last week with the move to let go of (general manager) Dave (Gettleman)," Olsen said after arriving at Wofford College. "At the end of the day, with everything going on, and now with the transition to Marty (Hurney) and slight chaos that went around for another week, I just didn't feel like it was right for me to add fuel to that fire and make things that much more complicated, add more controversy or distraction to our team.
"I didn't think it was right to the players, I didn't think it was right to the guys that count on me to be a leader on this team and coaches, people in this organization – Mr. Richardson on down – who count on me to set a certain example both by my presence here but also my play. I just didn't think my selfishness would do any good."
There were rumors that perhaps Olsen would consider a holdout. And as he mentioned, the switch from Gettleman to Hurney was a major shake-up just before the start of camp. Would he have approached camp differently if things were more settled and Gettleman was still Carolina's general manager?
"I don't know. It's hard to say," Olsen said. "We feel strongly about where we were in those discussions and our standing. But I'm also respectful of where the team comes from. I just didn't think it was fair to Marty, I didn't think it was fair to the team, I didn't think it was fair to Mr. Richardson, the organization, players, these young guys – the first time they ever meet me I'm adding more distraction than I'm worth."
But Olsen knows he's valuable. And while he's built a reputation as a team-first guy – which has been further solidified by his handling of this contract situation – he knows he also must look out for his own best interests in this business.
He recently met with Hurney, and among other things, they discussed his contract.
"I went up to his office and we just sat and it was just catching up," Olsen said. "He's a guy I feel strongly about. He's the guy who is responsible – along with Coach (Rivera) – for bringing me here. For that I am always grateful. We had a good talk. I think everyone kind of understands each other's positioning on it. That's where it's at.
"As far as I'm concerned, today, all that stuff is over now. We gave it a run, tried to get something done. It didn't work out. I'm going to play out my contract and try to win a Super Bowl."
Olsen is hopeful negotiations will continue between his representation and the Panthers. Nothing has been promised. No expectations have been set.
But Olsen is putting all of that aside. There is work to be done and as always, Olsen is prepared to do his part.
"I'm here and I'm ready to play," Olsen said. "I expect to have a great season. Starting now, my primary focus is on having the best training camp we can, the best training camp I can.
"They count on me to be here and set the tone and be a guy they can rely on. That's what we're going to do."
View photos of players as they report to Panthers training camp at Wofford College.