Mar/10/15 09:20 AM Filed in: Greg Olsen
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen doesn’t want what happened to Steve Smith Sr. last year and is about to happen to DeAngelo Williams this year, which is to be released by the team that you want to end your career with.
He hopes the three-year extension signed on Thursday will make it possible for him to retire as a Carolina Panther.
“It’s never easy to see those kinds of guys go elsewhere," Olsen said of Smith and Williams, the team’s all-time leading receiver and rusher. “But sometime those hard decisions have to be made.
“That’s why I feel so fortunate that at this stage of my career I continue to be with the same team and get a fresh contract that gives me more security here.
“I realize that’s not necessarily the norm, so I don’t take that for granted."
To be clear, Olsen doesn’t plan to hang up his cleats once this new deal expires in 2018. He hopes to play a few more years beyond that, and he believes that will be with the Panthers.
But having seen Carolina release Smith last season and seeing it set to release Williams after the new league year starts at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday to clear $2 million under the salary cap, he doesn’t take anything for granted.
“A lot of things can happen, so to sit here and say I will play here until the end of my career [I can’t]," Olsen said. “That’s obviously the goal. That’s the goal of that contract and what everybody involved wanted to accomplish.
“I try not to think that far down the road."
Olsen was looking at the immediate future when he signed $22.5 million deal.
With the influx of young talent such as quarterback Cam Newton, middle linebacker Luke Kuechly and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei blended with veterans such as himself, outside linebacker Thomas Davis and center Ryan Kalil, he believes the foundation is set for Carolina to be a perennial playoff contender.
Last year’s team won the NFC South to become the first in franchise history to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons.
“There really is a mixture on the roster of both young talent, older guys and veterans that still can play at a high level," Olsen said. “Our future is really bright. It’s exciting to be a part of."
Loyalty also factored into Olsen’s decision. The help team owner Jerry Richardson provided him and his wife, Kara, as their son T.J. underwent four heart surgeries is something he’ll never forget.
“Everything about it, we didn’t want to go anywhere else," Olsen said by phone from New York City, where his family is celebrating his upcoming 30th birthday. “[Charlotte] is where we wanted to be and raise our family."
And Charlotte is where he wants to retire, something Smith and Williams weren’t allowed to do.
“It really came together pretty fast," Olsen said. “We made it clear we wanted to finish our career here and just hammered it out. I still think I have a lot of years left to play. By no means do I want to get through this [contract] and call it a day.
“When we get to that point, we’ll see where we’re at."