Panthers defensive tackle Dwan Edwards was one of the best bargains in the NFL last season, but the 31-year-old free agent is looking for more security this winter.
He might not find it in Carolina.
Edwards said Thursday he is weighing several contract offers, including a one-year offer from the cap-strapped Panthers. He indicated he was looking for a longer deal.
“It’s getting to the time in my career where you definitely start thinking about winning a Super Bowl,” Edwards said in a phone interview from Buffalo. “I wouldn’t say (the Panthers) were Super Bowl contenders. I think there’s an opportunity to make some noise in their division and get in the playoffs.
“If I’m not in their vision any longer than one year, it’s hard to think that (a Super Bowl run) is going to happen.”
Edwards would not identify his other suitors, but said one was a playoff team last season. He said he has been offered longer deals than the Panthers’, but would not discuss particulars.
Edwards signed a one-year deal worth $1.5 million last September after Buffalo cut him days before the start of the season. Despite missing two games with a wrist injury, Edwards posted six sacks, the most by a Panthers defensive tackle since Kris Jenkins had seven in 2002.
Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh, with eight, was the only defensive tackle in the NFC with more sacks than Edwards.
Edwards and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn are considered the Panthers’ top two priorities among their free agents.
The Panthers are believed to have given a contract proposal to Munnerlyn, as well, although the terms have not been disclosed.
After joining the Panthers a week before their season opener, Edwards immediately became a starter alongside nose tackle Ron Edwards. The Panthers cut Ron Edwards as part of their moves to get below the $123 million salary cap.
The Panthers are about $4 million under the cap, and have essentially been bystanders through the first three days of the free agency period.
While division rivals Atlanta and New Orleans made key acquisitions Thursday with the signings of running back Steven Jackson and cornerback Keenan Lewis, respectively, Carolina’s only addition has been veteran corner Drayton Florence.
Dwan Edwards did not rule out a return to Carolina, which could potentially up the ante with a longer deal.
But this is the reality faced by first-year general manager Dave Gettleman, who talked at his introductory press conference about trying to sign quality players to one-year deals.
Gettleman said at the combine last month he wants to get the Panthers in better cap position not just this year, but in future years, as well.
Edwards was in for 67 percent of the defensive snaps last year and flourished in the Panthers’ 4-3 scheme. He played most of his first seven seasons as a defensive end in the 3-4 alignments employed by Baltimore and Buffalo.
He said he felt like Carolina was a “natural” fit for him, given his familiarity with the organization and his success in the scheme.
But he did not hide his disappointment in the Panthers’ initial offer.
“I’m waiting for the call from my agent for him to let me know what the next move is,” Edwards said. “I definitely feel like I overachieved for what I signed for. I feel like I have a lot left in the tank. I played hurt and did the best I could for a young team.”
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