Panthers DT Kawann Short returns for mandatory minicamp

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Coach Ron Rivera said the Carolina Panthers' ability to re-sign defensive tackle Kawann Short to a long-term deal could be ''complicated'' by the huge deal Fletcher Cox signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.

''We'll see how things unfold,'' Rivera said Tuesday.

Cox agreed to a six-year deal worth $102.6 million on Monday that includes $63 million in guaranteed money, said a person familiar with the contract negotiations. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the Eagles had not publicly disclosed the contract details.

Like Cox, Short is considered a big-time pass rushing tackle that can create havoc on the interior defensive line.

And, he wants a new deal.

While Rivera said he purposely doesn't pay much attention NFL contracts - he leaves that part of the business up to general manager Dave Gettleman - he couldn't help but take notice of Cox's new deal.

''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.''

Short returned to the practice field for the Panthers mandatory three-day minicamp beginning Tuesday after skipping two weeks of OTAs. The 27-year-old refused to answer questions about his contract situation after practice.

Short has put up comparable numbers to Cox while playing similar positions in a 4-3 defensive scheme.

Cox entered the league in 2012 - one year before Short - and has 22 sacks in four seasons, including 9 1/2 last season. Short has 16 sacks in three seasons, including 11 last season for Carolina - the most in franchise history by a defensive tackle.

Cox had 71 tackles in 2015; Short had 55. Both forced three fumbles.

Like Cox, Short is looking to sign a major contract.

Short is scheduled to make $1.04 million next season as part of the final year of his rookie deal. After being named NFC Defensive Player of the Month twice last season, he has clearly outperformed that deal.

The Panthers have said they want to sign Short to a long-term deal, but no agreement has been reached.

''He is 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.''

Cox's deal puts the Panthers in an interesting situation.

Gettleman balked earlier this offseason on giving All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman a long-term contract extension after deeming his demands too high.

Carolina wound up pulling the franchise tag offer to Norman, allowing him to become a free agent after they couldn't reach a long-term deal. Norman signed with the Washington Redskins two days later for $75 million over five seasons.

The difference with Short is he's under contract through next season, potentially limiting his leverage with the team.

Short walked to and from practice with his teammates, many of whom expressed understanding for his current situation.

''It was definitely great to have KK back out here,'' Panthers co-captain Thomas Davis said. ''We know how important it is to this football team. Hopefully soon they will get something worked out because he's a guy that is definitely deserving of everything that is about to happen to him. He played tremendous for us last year and he made our job easier as linebackers.''

Davis said he doesn't fault Short for looking to capitalize on his success last season.

''If you are producing and doing the things you are supposed to do then they are going to reward you that way. If not, just like any business, they are going to get rid of you,'' Davis said. ''So you have to capitalize on your opportunity when it comes.''

The Panthers had full participation at minicamp other than wide receiver Devin Funchess, who was excused because of an illness. Wide receiver Brenton Bersin turned his ankle in practice and offensive tackle Donald Hawkins left early because of heat-related issues.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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