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Ron Rivera: Panthers will 'probably have to tag' Short

The Carolina Panthers aren't about to let Kawann Short hit the open market.

Coach Ron Rivera told ESPN on Thursday the Panthers will "probably have to tag" the free agent to be.

The decision to tag Short won't come as a surprise. The 2015 All-Pro is reportedly seeking $17-19 million annually on a long-term deal. If the sides can't agree on compensation, the Panthers will use the tag to ensure the 28-year-old remains in Carolina for at least one more season.

Teams can begin tagging potential free agents on February 15. Last season, the defensive tackle tag was more than $13.6 million.

Short told the Charlotte Observer last month he hoped to avoid the tag -- like most players -- but understands if the Panthers use it to keep him in town.

"Everybody would like to avoid that," Short said. "If it happens, it happens. I can't come here and cuss out the organization because it happened. I need to be professional about the whole situation."

Part of the reason behind rescinding Josh Norman's franchise tag last season -- and failure to come to an agreement on a long-term deal for the corner -- was to free up money for the looming contracts on the defensive line. Short's contract is up now and Star Lotulelei's deal expires after next season.

Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman values "hog mollies" as the foundation of his defense. Soon he'll have to pay those linemen to keep them in town.

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