CHARLOTTE – The Panthers have applied the non-exclusive franchise tag to defensive tackle Kawann Short.
The 2013 second-round draft pick's rookie contract was set to expire when the new league year starts March 9. The tag keeps Short from becoming a free agent and gives the team until July 15 to negotiate a long-term contract. Other teams can make Short a contract offer once the new league year starts, but the Panthers can match and would receive two first-round picks from any potential suitor if Carolina chooses not to match. As a part of applying the tag, the Panthers tendered a one-year qualifying offer of the average of the top five defensive tackle salaries from last season relative to the current salary cap.
After two solid seasons as an important part of Carolina's defensive line rotation, Short had a breakout year in 2015, establishing himself as one of the league's best interior pass rushers. He started all 16 games and led the team with 11 sacks – the most by a defensive tackle in franchise history – and earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors.
In 2016, Short again started every game and finished with six sacks, the second-highest total on the team.
Short is the seventh player in team history to receive a franchise tag, joining punter Todd Sauerbrun (2003), offensive tackle Jordan Gross (2008), defensive end Julius Peppers (2009), center Ryan Kalil (2011), defensive end Greg Hardy (2014) and cornerback Josh Norman (2016), whose tag was later rescinded.