Panthers add $2M in incentives to Olsen's deal


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers on Thursday added $2 million in incentives to Greg Olsen‘s contract that will make him the fifth-highest paid tight end in the NFL if he meets them, interim general manager Marty Hurney told ESPN.

Incentives for the three-time Pro Bowl selection are for receptions, receiving yards, average yards per catch and league honors. They would max out at an average salary of $8.75 million.

Olsen was looking for an extension to get the average yearly salary closer to what his production warranted. The incentives were a win-win for both sides.

“We had an opportunity present itself and we felt like it was a good opportunity to get something done, one that worked for both sides,” Hurney told ESPN. “He’s extremely consistent. He’s a tremendous player. It was just a unique situation.”

Seattle’s Jimmy Graham is the highest-paid tight end with an average salary of $10 million, followed by Kansas City’s Travis Kelce ($9.37 million), Washington’s Jordan Reed ($9.35 million) and New England’s Rob Gronkowski ($9 million).

Olsen, 32, has been seeking to be among the highest-paid at his position since last season, when he became the first tight end in NFL history to record three straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

Olsen considered holding out of training camp, but ultimately reported because he didn’t want to put his “personal best interest above that of the team.”

“It’s not something I wanted to be a part of,” Olsen said at the start of training camp. “It’s not who I am. I’m here. I’m ready to play. I always feel I’m ready to play. I expect to have a great season. I expect to do the things I’ve done the last couple of seasons.”

Olsen, whose contract runs through 2018, previously ranked seventh among tight ends with an average salary of $7.5 million a year. He has led the Panthers in receptions and receiving yards the past three seasons.

His 80 consecutive starts are the third longest in Carolina history — for any position. His streak of 158 regular-season games played is the second-longest streak among NFL tight ends behind Jason Witten‘s 219 at Dallas.

“It’s the one individual statistics that kind of sums up how I’ve always tried to approach my career,” Olsen said a few weeks ago. “Be productive, but be productive consistently. Be durable. Play every game. That’s a lot that goes into that.

“There’s a lot of guys that are productive for a four- or five-game stretch, then have to sit out. Or are great one year and fall off. I don’t ever want that to be me.”

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