Panther Sign Addison for 3 Years at $22.5 Million

The Carolina Panthers kept one of their pending free agents when they signed DE Mario Addison to a new 3 year, $22.5 million extension.

The is the second deal in the last few days that I think reflects the expected inflation of the salary cap and need to spend significant money in the current year. 

Addison played in 40.5% of the Panthers defensive snaps last year and has a grand total of four starts in his career. He is a nice situational rusher who had a career high 9.5 sacks in 2016 and has posted 22 sacks in the last three seasons for Carolina. He will be 30 this season.

The best comparison for Addison is probably Willie Young of the Bears. Young signed an extension with Chicago last season at the age of 31 after posting 16.5 sacks across the prior two seasons, including a 10 sack campaign in 2014. He saw more playing time than Addison but signed for just $3 million a season.

So Addison received more than double what Young received just one year earlier. His salary is close to being in line with the veteran crop of pass rushers that hit free agency three years ago in DeMarcus Ware, Julius Peppers, and Jared Allen, all of whom were considered, at one point in their career, high level pass rushers. The contract value is similar to the contract Mario Williams signed last season with the Dolphins. Any way you slice it this is a big number for Addison provided the numbers in the contract are correct.

This marks a bit of a shift for the Panthers in their recent philosophy with players. Last season they let Josh Norman walk in free agency rather than commit a (very) big amount to him and they signed Charles Johnson to start for just $3 million. I would think that this contract should make defensive tackle Kawaan Short remain very firm in any contract demands this offseason after the team applies the franchise tag.

Addison is one of the nice success stories in the NFL and a sign of how perseverance can pay off. Addison was an undrafted free agent who signed with the Chicago Bears following the NFL lockout of 2011. He was cut after a few weeks and claimed by the Indianapolis Colts where he finished the year. He was released again and signed to the Colts practice squad before being signed by the Redskins and then being cut and signed to their practice squad. The Panthers signed Addison off the Redskins practice squad in late 2012 and he has been with them ever since.

Addison signed a two year, $2.56 million extension with the Panthers in 2014, which ended up being a tremendous bargain. Addison would go on to record 6.5 sacks in the season he signed his extension and has never looked back, becoming an important part of their defense. Based on the size of the contract I would assume he will get more responsibility next year to probably take Johnson’s role and log close to 60% of the defensive snaps.

Questions about this article? Reach Jason Fitzgerald on Twitter at @jason_otc