The Panthers have continued their crusade to lock up their best players.
They will make MLB Jon Beason what is believed to be the richest deal ever for a middle linebacker: five years, $50 million, $25 million guaranteed.
Beason, 26, follows in line with RB DeAngelo Williams and DE Charles Johnson, star players who have remained in Carolina for the long term following a 2-14 season. The Panthers have shelled out more than $76 million to the pair and have been among the more active teams since the lockout has been lifted.
The Beason signing is no surprise. It was considered a major priority of Panthers GM Marty Hurney after signing the team's 2011 free agents. Beason's deal wasn't up until after this season, but the team has wanted to lock him up for the long term.
Next on the list could be an extension for C Ryan Kalil, one of the offensive leaders.
Beason is a defensive captain and is considered one of the Panthers' most valuable leaders, despite entering only his fifth season. Even among all the losing, Beason made a team-high 121 tackles, two forced fumbles, one sack and one interception. He has not missed a start in his four-year career.
The way we see it
The Panthers are slinging money around like nobody's business, but this was a must-do move. Beason is the defensive heart and soul of the team, something new coach Ron Rivera quickly discovered. With better health, this could be a much-improved team in 2011. Also, signing Beason to a long-term deal now — even as expensive as it sounds to the naked ear — makes a lot of sense financially for the future. This was a win for all parties involved.