Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short is back at work with his head down and his mouth closed.
After taking more than a week off organized team activities, Short returned to the team this week and participated in the first session of mandatory veteran minicamp Tuesday.
He came back to the field one day after the Philadelphia Eagles inked their defensive tackle to a megadeal that could potentially throw off negotiations between Short and the Panthers.
The Eagles signed Fletcher Cox to a monster six-year deal worth $103 million. Cox, like Short a 4-3 defensive tackle, will receive $55.5 million in guaranteed money by March 2017.
That guaranteed money figure is comparable to Cam Newton’s in the first year-plus of his contract and eclipses Luke Kuechly’s total guaranteed money by more than $20 million.
I heard about that one. (Someone) wrote that it’s going to complicate things. And it probably will. So we’ll see how things unfold.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera, on a $103 million deal signed by Eagles DT Fletcher Cox that could impact negotiations with Kawann Short
“I heard about that one,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said of Cox’ deal. “(Someone) wrote that it’s going to complicate things. And it probably will. So we’ll see how things unfold.”
Short surprised the team when he stopped showing up to voluntary OTAs in hopes of getting a long-term contract extension. Cox did the same thing in Philadelphia, and upon returning to minicamp, he signed the contract extension.
Short would have handed over more than $76,000 had he not shown up to the mandatory minicamp.
Approached by reporters, Short declined to comment. He first said he had been told not to talk and later said that he decided not to talk.
“It’s great to have everybody out here. KK’s a part of what we’re doing and it’s good to have him around,” Rivera said. “I know the rest of the defensive tackles were happy to have him out here, especially with this heat. Again, this is a situation where it’s mandatory and he’s got to be here and we appreciate him.”
Short is entering the final year of his four-year rookie contract that is set to pay him $1.036 million in 2016. A former second-round pick, Short does not have the fifth-year option, so the Panthers would like to reach a long-term extension with Short before the start of the season, which would be his last before unrestricted free agency.
Short went right back into the rotation Tuesday despite missing more than a week of the final OTAs. Rivera said Short remained in great shape, and Short started with the first-string defensive line of Charles Johnson, Star Lotulelei and Kony Ealy.
Rivera said he likes to stay in his lane when it comes to contracts. He purposely doesn’t look at the deals so that he doesn’t have to talk to his players about money.
But he’d be willing to give advice if a player asks, which happens with frequency since Rivera is a former player. Rivera, who played for the Bears from 1985 to 1992, never played when the league had a salary cap, which has risen steadily to more than $155 million since 1994.
“That’s the hard part right now is what’s going on in the league,” Rivera said. “I think some of these contracts are unbelievable from what I’m seeing and hearing, but how far I get into them, I don’t because it’s not my job to do that.”