The Panthers have signed left tackle Michael Oher to a three-year contract extension, rewarding the man who has become synonymous with the protectors of a quarterback’s blind side.
Oher received $21.6 million in new money over the three years, with $9.5 million guaranteed, according to a league source.
Oher, 30, who was set to become a free agent after the 2016 season, is now under contract through 2019.
“We’re very pleased,” Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said in a release. “Michael came in here last year and fit in extremely well. He really had a solid year. He’s in his prime right now and he’s healthy. He’s become a quality player for us.”
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The Panthers signed Oher to a so-called “prove-it deal” last year -- worth $7 million over two years -- after he struggled through an injury-plagued season with Tennessee in 2014.
But Oher played well last season in Carolina, where he reunited with John Matsko, his offensive line coach in Baltimore. The former first-round pick of Baltimore started all 16 regular-season games and three playoff games.
“I’m very excited,” Oher said. “I really can’t wait to get to work. I don’t want to let these guys down. They believe in me.”
After Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil signed a two-year extension last week, the Observer reported the Panthers wanted to get a long-term deal done with Oher next.
“It would show that the organization believes in me,” Oher told the Observer. “I still have to prove myself. I’m still just trying to prove myself to them and just make sure I’m one of these guys because they do it right.”
Oher was a solid pass blocker in 2015, allowing just four regular-season sacks, according to Pro Football Focus. But Oher, the subject of “The Blind Side” book that was turned into a hugely popular movie, said he needs to become more consistent with his run blocking.
The new deals for the offensive linemen are the first the Panthers have done since rescinding Josh Norman’s franchise tag in April, freeing up $14 million that general manager Dave Gettleman said would be spent elsewhere.
The Panthers remain in contract negotiations with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kawann Short, who is looking for a long-term deal in the range of the $17 million-a-year contract that Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox signed this week.