From 2011-13, defensive end Mario Addison bounced around between four teams, five times.
But after landing in Carolina and leading the Panthers in sacks over the next three years (22, with 9 1/2 in 2016), he’s getting the big money and job security.
The Carolina Panthers announced the extension of defensive end Mario Addison’s contract through 2019 on Sunday afternoon. Addison, who said on a conference call that he “never even thought about” playing for a different team, was signed more than a week before his free agency was due to open.
“Mario has shown he is one of the best emerging pass rushers in the league and he deserves this contract,” general manager Dave Gettleman told the team website. “He consistently affects the quarterback, and we envision an increased role for him in our defense. He’s a pro in the way he approaches the game and brings an upbeat attitude to our locker room. We’re thrilled he will continue his career with the Panthers.”
The three-year deal is the first big free-agent signing by the Panthers in 2017.
It was the first big-money extension for Addison, 29, who early in his career competed with other young players at his position while he moved from organization to organization.
“If you bounce around here and there, it kind of makes you discouraged,” he said. “And I will be the first to admit that I got a little discouraged in the beginning of my career. I never gave up, because I know the things I could do.
“The craziest thing about it was, I was playing on teams that had young guys like me that were just drafted. And I kept thinking to myself, ‘You are better than those guys. Only thing you need is the opportunity.’”
Now, he has it.
The three-year deal is the first big free-agent signing by the Panthers in 2017. Addison was a priority to get re-signed by Carolina as a free agent, as is defensive tackle Kawann Short. Short becomes a free agent when the new NFL year starts on March 9, and it’s possible the Panthers use their franchise tag on him on March 1.
But Addison’s deal wasn’t that complicated.
In this locker room here, I’m a veteran. The younger guys look up to me and I want to keep it that way.
“I thought it was going to be a headache,” he said. “But everything went back and forth real well. Everything went great.
“I like the team. We made a good agreement that’s a really good, fair deal for me. I built my name here. ... I worked my way up. In this locker room here, I’m a veteran. The younger guys look up to me and I want to keep it that way.”
Now, Addison is on his way to earning a reported $22.5 million (according to national NFL reporter Ian Rapoport) and a celebratory week-long trip to Germany next month.
Addison has mostly been used situationally by the Panthers, but is confident he is an every-down defensive end.
“I had my success coming in rushing on third down, and in some cases I was rushing on first and second, too,” he said. “It kind of speaks for itself. They know I can be an every-down end. But whatever the team chooses to do with me, I’m down.
“...For a guy like me, the sky is the limit.”