The Panthers finally have their number one pick in camp, as Jon Benson signed his rookie contract early Sunday morning, with the intentions of practicing Monday with the team. Benson’s signing means that his eight-day holdout ends and that despite missing 12 practices, he will have a shot to have an impact for the Panthers in 2007. Terms of the deal from sources say it’s for five years and includes more than $6 mil in guaranteed money. He arrived in Charlotte on Saturday night to finish up the deal and make sure that by signing today he’ll be on the field tomorrow.
“Today is a dream come true for me as I’m now officially a Carolina Panther,” the Miami linebacker 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.” Beason gets a signing bonus of $3.2 mil. The main issue in getting the deal done was reportedly a lack of a second-year option bonus. “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.”
The 8-day holdout is the third-longest for a first round pick in Panthers history. Running back Tshimanga Biakabutuka sat out 27 days in 1996 and defensive end Jason Peter had a 44-day holdout two years later. Beason 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. The LB will get a shot to take the spot of veteran starter Na’il Diggs at outside linebacker, or start at middle linebacker if Dan Morgan is unable to come back from several concussions.