Skip to main content

Why the Panthers extended Derrick Brown

Derrick Brown

CHARLOTTE — The Panthers gave Derrick Brown a pile of money to be here for the long term for a very practical reason — he's very good at football.

But extending their star defensive tackle Friday also has a greater implication, one that speaks to the planned trajectory for the entire organization.

Now, people know that if you're drafted here and if you excel here, you'll be rewarded here.

That makes Friday's deal a signal to other players as much as a recognition of the good work Brown has done.

And make no mistake, the work Brown has done has been exceptional.

He set a league record for tackles by a defensive lineman last year, finishing with 103 tackles and a Pro Bowl berth, for a team that didn't create much else in the way of highlights.

He maintained a high standard long after the greater goals were lost.

He played the way you want them to play when they're picked in the first round, as he was in 2020 (seventh overall).

But this deal is about so much more than Brown himself, no matter how important Brown himself is to the overall product.

Dave Canales, Dan Morgan

With this contract, general manager Dan Morgan, executive vice president of football operations Brandt Tilis, and head coach Dave Canales are drawing a line in the sand and showing every future generation of Panthers players what they want to be about.

Brown isn't just one of their best players; he's one who works the way they want them all to work.

So with this deal, and with the offseason program starting next week, they can point to a clear example of what they want to be about. You can say a lot of words, or you can show players action.

And whether it's their targeted pursuit of top free agents in March, or a move the scope of this one, they can show players they're serious about what they want to do.

Now, the next generation of young talents, and the players they'll choose at the end of this month, will understand that the Panthers aren't just talking when they say they want to draft and develop.

That's important when they think about the scope of this team, and what they're trying to move on from.

Derrick Brown

But it's not just about being drafted here, waiting your turn, and being rewarded.

You have to play and play the way Brown did last year.

His individual brilliance was one of the few things to hang onto from a 2-15 season, which led directly to a new leadership team here.

That team was quick to address the glaring problems in free agency and set a long-term strategy. They solidified the offensive line in front of Bryce Young by signing Robert Huntand Damien Lewis. They added a proven target in Diontae Johnson. They fortified the defense at every level in free agency, and found an impact player in Jadeveon Clowney.

They're not burdening future years with a lot of multi-year contracts, as they still have just 26 players under contract through 2025 or beyond. So they have the flexibility to make big moves like this one, to be able to keep those core players home.

And after extending Derrick Brown Friday, there's evidence that they're serious about doing things in a certain way.

The Panthers' defensive lineman set a new NFL record for tackles made by a D-tackle in a single season with 103 stops in 2023. Take a look back at his milestone year.

Related Content