We saw this coming. Jordon Gross saw this coming. The only question was when it would happen. That question was answered today as the Carolina Panthers placed the franchise tag on Gross according to the Charlotte Observer.
This means a few things. First, Gross will almost definitely remain with the Panthers for one more year. Second, his salary will be equal to the average of the top-five highest paid offensive linemen in the league. Third, if another team wants to sign him, they’ll have to compensate the Panthers with two first-round draft picks which is extremely unlikely.
A long term deal couldn’t be reached so the team had to protect themselves from losing a quality tackle to another team.
“I’m glad the Panthers decided to make a move,” Gross said this morning by phone. “It’s nice to know I’m going to be a Panther for next season and hopefully more after that. I think we’ll still try to get a deal done, but at least now we’ve bought some time. “So I’m happy the way it’s worked out.”
Gross had hoped to get a longer deal, preferably seven years and one that he said would be “my last contract” done before now. But after his agent had some talks with the team near the end of the season, there has been little contact since. He said he understood the Panthers have a number of priorities and wasn’t upset by that, calling it just the way the business works.
Asked about tagging Gross, Carolina general manager Marty Hurney said, “Jordan obviously is a very valuable player to us. We tried for a long-term deal and it didn’t work out, so it’s no surprise that we franchised him.”
Gross could possibly move back to the left side this year, if re-signed left tackle Travelle Wharton moves inside to fill departed left guard Mike Wahle’s spot and Carolina gets another tackle through the draft or free agency.
Gross is publically saying that this is a business and that he’s okay with it. Time will tell if he’s willing to sign an extension to remain with the team beyond the ’08 season.