Panthers Acquire Sean Gilbert
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ The Carolina Panthers today acquired star defensive lineman Sean Gilbert when the Washington Redskins declined to match their $46.5 million, seven-year contract offer.
The deal makes Gilbert the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.
The Redskins will receive two first-round picks.
Gilbert sat out the entire 1997 season in a salary dispute with the Redskins. Carolina planned a late afternoon news conference to introduce Gilbert.
Washington had seven days to decide whether to match the deal, but decided not to prolong what most considered was a done deal.
Gilbert was the third overall selection in the 1992 draft by the Rams. Washington acquired him from St. Louis in 1996 for a first-rounder.
The offer sheet Gilbert signed represents the same deal he was offered March 24. That transaction was not completed because the Panthers and Redskins could not agree on compensation; Washington demanded Carolina’s first-round choice in last weekend’s draft, and the Panthers refused.
But the Panthers made a trade last Thursday with Miami that gave them an extra first-round choice in the 2000 draft, thereby freeing Carolina to complete the post-draft acquisition of Gilbert.
Gilbert’s relationship with the Redskins soured early last spring when the team designated him as its franchise player for 1997. The Redskins then offered Gilbert a multiyear contract averaging $4 million per year, but Gilbert wanted at least $4.5 million.
His deal with the Panthers, which includes a $10 million signing bonus, averages more than $6.6 million a year, moving him past the $6.5 million average paid by Minnesota to defensive lineman John Randle.