Jan/26/15 09:51 PM Filed in: Greg Olsen
GLENDALE, Ariz. The Carolina Panthers’ only two Pro Bowl players had a big impact on Sunday’s game, and are in line for big raises.
Tight end Greg Olsen and middle linebacker Luke Kuechly are both under contract for 2015, but could potentially be free agents after the season.
It was the capper to another strong season for Olsen, who established career highs and broke his own records for a Panthers tight end with 84 receptions for 1,008 yards.
Olsen ranked behind the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski (1,124) in receiving yardage among tight ends, and his catches were third-most by a tight end, trailing Chicago’s Martellus Bennett (90) and New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham (85).
Olsen, 29, signed a contract extension with the Panthers after he was acquired in a trade with Chicago before the 2011 season. He renegotiated the deal in 2013 to give the Panthers some salary cap relief.
Olsen said he and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, have yet to have any substantial contract talks with the Panthers, but he hopes something can get done before the start of the season.
“We’ll see how the offseason goes. There haven’t been any really major developments on that front,” Olsen said after the game Sunday. “Of course, I would love to finish my career there. I’d love to be able to get something done going into this season and know that I’ll be a part of the team for a while.”
Olsen has been the most productive tight end in Panthers’ history over the past three seasons, although he tends to get overshadowed by tight ends such as Graham, Gronkowski and – until he retired last season – Tony Gonzalez.
This was Olsen’s first Pro Bowl appearance in his eight seasons.
“I’ve been fortunate. I’ve had good opportunities to be able to continue to put up consistent numbers, just continue to kind of fly under the radar compared to some of the other guys. But that’s fine,” Olsen said. “I feel like I’ve been a pretty consistent member of our team for a while. I think I can continue to play at that level for a while still.”
Graham became the league’s highest-paid tight end last summer when he signed a four-year, $40 million deal, which included $21 million guaranteed.
The agreement ended a protracted contract dispute after the Saints placed the franchise tag on him. Graham argued he should have been tagged at the wide receiver threshold (a $5 million difference), but an arbitrator sided with the Saints.
Olsen said he would not make a similar argument.
“That’s not something I would challenge,” he said. “I’m a tight end.”