The Panthers will pick up the fifth-year option for defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, and general manager Dave Gettleman indicated he’d like to get the 2013 first-round locked up with a long-term deal.
Lotulelei, the 14th overall pick in Gettleman’s first Panthers draft, would make more than $6 million on the 2017 option.
Gettleman’s first priority at the position will be getting an extension for Kawann Short.
The Panthers have don’t a fifth-year option on Short because he was taken in the second round in 2013. Short, whose 11 sacks last season were the most by a Panthers defensive tackle, is set to become a free agent in 2017.
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Lotulelei got off to a slow start in 2015 after missing the first two games with a stress reaction in his surgically repaired foot. He finished with only 13 tackles in 14 games, but he had a total of five stops over the final three games.
Lotulelei’s sack numbers have decreased every year, from three as a rookie to one last season. But Gettleman said he’s pleased with the 6-2, 320-pounder from Utah.
“Once he got confident with that foot he really closed strong,” Gettleman said Tuesday. “He’s done everything we wanted. Star has not disappointed by any stretch of the imagination and he’s getting better. He’s earned this. I’m excited we’re going to have him around for two more years.”
Lotulelei and Short have been linked since Gettleman took them 1-2 in 2013 and introduced the Carolinas to the expression, “hog mollies.”
Asked about the possibility of keeping the tandem together for several more years, Gettleman said: “Nothing would make me happier.”