Beason ends holdout with Panthers, signs 5-year deal

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers rookie Jon Beason ended his eight-day holdout Sunday when he signed a five-year contract that includes more than $6 million in guaranteed money.

Agent Michael Huyghue said Beason, the 25th pick in the draft, will get a $3.2 million signing bonus to make up for the lack of a second-year option bonus, which was the main stumbling block in the negotiations.

Beason, a linebacker from Miami, was expected to travel to Spartanburg, S.C., and practice for the first time Monday morning when the team resumes training camp.

"Today is a dream come true for me as I'm now officially a Carolina Panther," Beason said. "There's a business side to professional football and I'm thankful that part is finally resolved. Ultimately, both the club and I compromised to settle our differences."

After the stalemate over how guaranteed money would be distributed, the two sides had stopped talking early last week as Beason missed the start of camp. But talks resumed Friday.

Beason and Huyghue flew to Charlotte late Saturday night. The contract was signed after a brief meeting at Bank of America Stadium Sunday morning, ending the dispute that caused Beason to miss 12 practices.

"We made it clear all along that we hold Jon in high regard as a person and a player," general manager Marty Hurney said. "Obviously we are extremely excited to get him in camp now."

Beason's eight-day holdout was the third-longest in team history. Running back Tshimanga Biakabutuka sat out 27 days in 1996 and defensive end Jason Peter had a 44-day holdout two years later.

Peter's dispute was over the Panthers' refusal to give him a contract with voidable years, which would have allowed Peter to get out of the contract early and become a free agent if he met certain incentives.

Huyghue said the Panthers drew a similar line on a second-year option bonus after a judge ruled in the spring that that type of bonus was not recoverable if the player defaulted on the contract.

But Huyghue said he was particularly upset because he claimed chief negotiator Rob Rogers initially offered a contract structure with a second-year option bonus, only to yank the offer off the table 24 hours later.

Many teams gave first-round picks option bonuses despite the ruling. But a handful did not, and multiple reports said No. 2 overall pick Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions did not get an option bonus. Johnson's signing late last week may have jump-started talks.

Huyghue said the money is made up with the large signing bonus and said the deal includes escalators starting in the second year worth $500,000. Beason also will get another signing bonus worth at least $2.5 million in the third year of the deal. The total package is just over $12.5 million.

"It was a nice compromise. At the end of the day he got a huge signing bonus," Huyghue said. "The option bonus in the second year was important to us. Instead they gave us a huge bonus on the front end and a second big bonus in the third year."

The 6-foot, 237-pound Beason hits the practice field Monday morning. The speedy Beason was expected to unseat veteran starter Na'il Diggs at outside linebacker, or start at middle linebacker if Dan Morgan can't return from multiple concussions.

Diggs injured his right hamstring in practice last week, and second-year pro James Anderson had replaced him. Morgan has practiced every day, but has been held out of most contact drills.

Beason will have five days of practice before Carolina plays its first preseason game Saturday at the New York Giants.

"I have some catching up to do, but feel ready to meet the challenges that lie ahead," Beason said. "Now is the time for actions, not words."

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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) rushes during an NFL football game between the between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)

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