CHARLOTTE – The Panthers have signed three promising young contributors to contract extensions.
All three were heading into the final year of their contracts. Chandler would have been a restricted free agent, and Addison and Jones would have been unrestricted free agents.
"You have to think long-term and be proactive," general manager Dave Gettleman said. "Around here we talk about earning the right, and these three young guys have earned the right to these contract extensions.
"We think all three are ascending as players. This gave us a chance to lock them up long-term."
Chandler is battling for a starting tackle spot in his third season. The former undrafted rookie, who started his career in Carolina as a defensive tackle, switched to offensive line last offseason and flourished. He played in 16 games with eight starts – six at right guard and two at right tackle.
"Going into this year I really wasn't thinking about an extension or anything like that. After OTAs it came up, and it really hasn't hit me yet," Chandler said. "I'm just so thankful for them believing in me. I came in as an undrafted rookie not knowing if I would make the team, and now the two years of work I've put in has gotten me to this point. It's a really good feeling."
Said Gettleman: "He's come a long way. He's getting some on-the-job training and he's showing a lot of promise."
Addison, who joined Carolina late in the 2012 season, has evolved into a dependable pass rusher and special teams contributor, playing in 16 games with two starts last year. He posted 14 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 15 quarterback pressures, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 2013 – all career highs – and tied for the team lead with 10 special teams tackles.
"I'm excited to know that everybody here has faith in me that I can get the job done," Addison said.
Said Gettleman: "Mario is a legitimate pass-rusher. He is definitely what we're looking for in our defensive ends."
Jones has been a special teams stalwart for the Panthers since the team acquired him in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers before the start of the 2012 season. The fourth-year pro has missed just one game in the last two seasons and matched Addison with 10 special teams tackles in 2013.
"It's nice to have a home now," Jones said. "I'm getting more comfortable with the defense, and this is a great opportunity."
Said Gettleman: "He's always been a top special teams player, and since we started giving him reps at safety, he's really shown a lot of improvement."