CHARLOTTE – Left tackle Jordan Gross remained true to form when asked about his future during locker cleanout day on Monday.
"They just offered me a new 10-year deal," Gross said with a smile, "so I think I'm going to take that."
Gross is good at making people laugh. He's also one of the most reliable left tackles in the NFL.
But Gross just finished his 11th NFL season and the last year of his current contract.
So what's next for the two-time Pro Bowler? He's not quite sure, and he's going to take some time to decide.
"If I'm playing I'll play here," Gross said. "I don't know yet.
"You don't want to rush into any big decisions. I haven't talked to the team so I don't even know if I have an option to come back. We'll just have to see where that conversation goes."
Gross proved that he can still play at a very high level in 2013, and he's confident he can continue to perform at that level.
The six-time team captain brings added value to the Panthers as a team leader and one of the most widely respected players in the locker room.
"You'd like to think that you're irreplaceable and there's no way that anyone can live without you. But that's not the truth," Gross said. "Every year players much more important than me leave teams for one reason or another, and they survive and somehow make it the next year."
That's often times the reality of life in the NFL, and Gross is well aware.
"Since I graduated high school, football has kind of run my whole life," Gross said. "This is the first time I've ever had a little option as to where to go from here. You take your time and think about it."
Gross has time, and he'll use it to take a deep breath and reflect on one of most memorable seasons of his career. And when he's ready, he'll decide what to do next.
"It's been an awesome year," Gross said. "It feels good when you've got the division champs hat in your locker. I wish it said Super Bowl champion, but it doesn't and I'm not going to say that what we did this year was a disappointment at all.
"I think (this team) is definitely set up for long-term success. This was just the beginning."