CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -The Panthers decided Tuesday to place the franchise tag on Jordan Gross, all but assuring the right tackle will remain in Carolina next season.
After failing to agree on a long-term deal, the Panthers offered Gross a one-year contract for $7.45 million, which is the average salary of the top five highest-paid offensive linemen in the NFL from last season.
While the franchise tag doesn't prevent another team from offering Gross a contract, the Panthers can match any offer. If they don't, the team that signs him would have to give up two first-round picks to the Panthers in return.
It means Gross almost certainly will spend 2008 in Carolina.
``We would have liked to have got a long-term deal done, but were unable to,'' general manager Marty Hurney said. ``Obviously Jordan is an important player to us.''
The Panthers and Gross' agent, Ethan Lock, had made little progress on a new deal over the past several weeks. While the Panthers had until Thursday to place the franchise tag on Gross, Hurney and coach John Fox were scheduled to leave for Indianapolis later Tuesday for the NFL combine. That would have prevented serious negotiations the rest of the week.
Gross and Carolina could still agree on a long-term contract. The two sides have until this summer to work out a deal before the window expires.
``You can always negotiate,'' Hurney said.
Lock did not immediately return phone and e-mail messages seeking comment Tuesday.
Gross was the eighth overall pick in the 2003 draft out of Utah and has started all 80 games for Carolina in five seasons.
Gross was shifted to left tackle early in the 2006 season after a season-ending knee injury to Travelle Wharton, but is more comfortable on the right side. He switched back there in 2007 and anchored the offensive line.
At 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, Gross would have commanded attention on the free-agent market. Top tackles have been averaging deals around $7 million a season.
The Panthers are planning for changes on the offensive line. Mike Wahle, the starting left guard last season, was released last week in a salary-cap move. Ryan Kalil, Carolina's second-round pick last season, could become the starting center. That could shift Justin Hartwig to guard or perhaps he could be dangled as trade bait.
Wharton was re-signed last week, but it's also possible he could be shifted to guard instead of returning at tackle.

NFL Top Stories

Thumbnail NFL Week 7 LV SuperContest Picks Need some help with your picks for Week 7 in the NFL? Here are who the leaders in the Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest picked.
NFL Week 7 Injury Report 10/23/16
Sunday, 23 October 2016
Thumbnail Cards, Ravens deal with assorted maladies   With Ben Roethlisberger already down for the count, what other stars join the Pittsburgh quarterback as Week 7 casualties? Here’s a guide in advance of those...
Thumbnail Vikings vs. Eagles Prediction The Vikings are the only undefeated team left in the NFL but will they remain that way after taking on the Eagles today at 1:00PM ET?
Thumbnail Raiders vs. Jaguars Prediction Are the Jaguars a safe bet to cover the spread today when they host the Raiders at 1:00PM ET?
Thumbnail Ravens vs. Jets Prediction Will it be the Baltimore Ravens or New York Jets snapping their current losing streak when they meet up today at...
More inNFL Articles  

NFL Team Pages