BOCA RATON, Fla. – At the Annual Meeting, general manager Dave Gettleman confirmed that the Panthers will exercise the fifth-year option on defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, which will keep him under contract through the 2017 season. "Star has not disappointed by any stretch of the imagination, and he's getting better," Gettleman said. "He's earned this. I'm excited we're going to have him around for two more years."
Lotulelei was Gettleman's first pick as general manager – the 14th overall selection in 2013. He's posted 99 tackles and six sacks while playing 44 games in three seasons as a starter.
"Once he got confident with that foot, he really closed strong," Gettleman said, referencing the injury Lotulelei overcame early in the year. "He's done everything we wanted."
STILL LOOKING FOR ANOTHER DT: Lotulelei teams with Kawann Short and Paul Soliai in Carolina's defensive tackle group, but Gettleman is still looking to add a fourth interior lineman.
Kyle Love, who posted 19 tackles and three sacks for Carolina in 2015, remains an option through free agency. The draft, which offers plenty of talent at defensive tackle, could also be an option.
"We're talking with Kyle Love, and there's the draft," Gettleman said. "This draft is heavy in defensive linemen and offensive tackles, so I'm not mad."
CONFIDENT ABOUT PROCESS WITH NORMAN: The Panthers placed the franchise tag on cornerback Josh Norman, who wants a long-term deal.
Gettleman said the team is interested in a long-term deal but is also comfortable employing Norman under the tag in 2016.
"I have to make decisions based on the best interests of the Panthers," Gettleman said. "We have a philosophy moving forward. We've tagged Josh. We have the intention of having him play for us, and we'd like to get a long-term deal done. Time will tell. Contracts get done when they're supposed to get done."
PATIENT APPROACH WITH PUNTING SITUATION: Swayze Waters, signed earlier this offseason, is the only punter currently on the Carolina roster, but competition will be added to the mix in due time.
"We'll see. Options are open," Gettleman said. "We don't have to play until September."
Gettleman said the Panthers did make an offer to former punter Brad Nortman, who opted to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
GETTLEMAN HAS A LOT OF TAPE TO WATCH: At some point, Gettleman will take a look at the film from Super Bowl 50. But he's not quite ready yet.
"I will eventually. But not yet," Gettleman said. "It's hard. You're devastated. You've got 150 people working their asses off and you got this close. It sucks."
Gettleman's first priority when he returns to Charlotte will be watching tape in preparation for the 2016 NFL Draft. The schedule has been compressed for Gettleman since the Panthers advanced to the Super Bowl, and he's trying to get up to speed with the scouting staff.
"I'm the one that's behind. What's going to be really nice is we are leaving here tomorrow and there are going to be a lot of people on vacation. I'll be by myself in the office for 10 days in my happy place, watching film. I'll get caught up," Gettleman said with a smile.
"But we are in a pretty good place. We're in good shape."