Carolina Panthers

What Panthers’ Greg Olsen stands to gain – and lose – with possible training camp holdout

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (88) is the first tight end in NFL history to have three consecutive seasons with 1,000 receiving yards.
Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (88) is the first tight end in NFL history to have three consecutive seasons with 1,000 receiving yards.

While you were at the beach, mountains or – in Dave Gettleman’s case, Cape Cod – here’s what you missed on the Greg Olsen contract front:

Absolutely nothing.

Olsen, the Carolina Panthers’ Pro Bowl tight end, still wants a new deal that better reflects his standing among the league’s premiere tight ends. But to this point Gettleman has shown no indication he’s interested in tearing up the contract he gave Olsen two years ago that included a $12 million signing bonus.

There have been no talks between the Panthers and Olsen concerning a restructured deal, sources told the Observer.

And when Gettleman returns to the office this week, his first order of business is expected to be getting an extension done with veteran linebacker Thomas Davis, according to one of the sources.

That development doesn’t figure to sit well with Olsen, who did not rule out the possibility of a training camp holdout during an interview with ESPN’s Adam Schefter last month.

The Panthers feel more urgency to act on Davis, 34, who is entering the final year of his contract.

Olsen, 32, has two years remaining on a deal that places him seventh among the league’s highest-paid tight ends in terms of per-year average ($7.5 million) and 12th in guaranteed money ($12 million).

None of the tight ends ranked ahead of Olsen on the pay scale – Jimmy Graham tops the list at $10 million a year – has done what Olsen has the past three seasons. In fact, no tight end in NFL history had posted three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons until Olsen did so.

It’s clear Olsen has outperformed the three-year, $22 million extension he received in 2015, and he wants a raise.

When the Observer asked Olsen about his contract following a minicamp practice in June, he said he had a good read on his standing among tight ends and where he belonged moneywise.

“Both productivity and all things considered, there’s nobody that’s been more productive or more consistent than I have,” he said. “And I’ll stand on that until the cows come home.”

“You can make of that what you may,” Olsen added. “I feel comfortable with where I belong, and hopefully other people do, too.”

If those “other people” in the front office are not on the same page as Olsen, the question becomes how uncomfortable Olsen might try to make it for the organization.

During an interview with Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio on Friday, Olsen’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said no decision has been made yet whether Olsen will report to training camp on time July 25.

The possible cost

If Olsen were to hold out, he’d be docked $40,000 for every day he misses out on Spartanburg’s heat and humidity.

In addition to the fines – teams often waive all or part of them – Olsen would risk turning off at least a segment of the Panthers’ fan base by holding out. That’s not insignificant for one of the team’s most popular players.

Olsen has done a lot for the Carolinas since the Panthers acquired him from Chicago in 2011 in what is easily the best trade in franchise history (hat tip to Marty Hurney).

He has raised more than $1.7 million for pediatric cardiology patients at Levine Children’s Hospital through the HEARTest Yard fund, which he and his wife, Kara, launched in 2013 after their son T.J. was born with a congenital heart defect.

Olsen was one of three finalists for the 2016 NFL Man of the Year Award, which Davis won after the 2014 season. Given the history of the award named for ex-Bears great Walter Payton, being a finalist last year means Olsen is almost certain to win it sooner rather than later.

What would he accomplish?

Staging a holdout wouldn’t undermine all the good Olsen has done in the community (he’s also been known to stop to check on the drivers and passengers in Charlotte fender-benders).

But it would be viewed by some as a distraction to a team trying to bounce back from last year’s 6-10 disappointment following the Super Bowl season of 2015.

After Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor ended a seven-week holdout in 2015, he said he’d received negative feedback from fans who didn’t understand what he was trying to accomplish.

Panthers players are scheduled to report to Wofford in eight days. Before that happens, quarterback Cam Newton will host a group of offensive players for passing drills at Under Armour’s campus in Maryland.

Olsen is expected to be among those joining Newton in Baltimore. It remains to be seen if Olsen will be unloading his gear in Spartanburg next Tuesday morning.

The feeling here is that Olsen ultimately will show up at Wofford for reporting day, albeit begrudgingly.

Then he’ll put up Pro Bowl numbers for the fourth season in a row and be compensated accordingly – even if he has to wait a year longer than he’d hoped.

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson