CHARLOTTE -- The Carolina Panthers have reached the two-minute warning stage of the Jordan Gross negotiations, but it looks like they're electing to punt.
Tuesday's the deadline for the Panthers to negotiate a long-term contract with their franchise player this season, but it doesn't appear that's going to happen.
That means Gross will play out the year under his one-year, $7.455 million deal that came along with the tag, and potentially be an unrestricted free agent next year.
Panthers general manager Marty Hurney didn't want to comment on the specifics of the negotiations, but there apparently haven't been any in some time. That could change with a phone call, but the Panthers' stance appears to be to stand pat.
Before you panic about the prospect of losing Gross after this year, the Panthers will still have the opportunity to place the tag on him again next year. That would cost them at least $8.946 million, since the tag calls for players to get the average of the top five salaries at their position, or 20 percent more than they made the year before. (Since the salary is computed by salary cap numbers, that's why they can't tag defensive end Julius Peppers next year -- he'd have to get a one-year deal approaching $17 million.
It's not unheard of for teams to keep using the tag on the same guy. Seattle did it three years running on tackle Walter Jones before finally getting a long-term deal. Of course, Jones was a perennial Pro Bowler, not a guy who may or may not even be a left tackle.
Gross has said throughout the process he didn't think the two sides were far apart, but there's apparently still some distance. If he can play well on the left side this year, he'll add to his bargaining position.
Of course, there are some in the organization who think first-round pick Jeff Otah has the kind of feet to eventually play on the left side, though that's something they'd prefer not to put into play anytime soon.
• EDDIE HASKELL ALERT: Quarterback Jake Delhomme was talking during summer school about the assortment of pranksters and jokers on the roster, when he was asked which teammate was the biggest brown-noser.
His answer came swift and sure.
"Oh, Brett Basanez. Without a doubt," Delhomme said of his understudy. "He asked to room with (offensive coordinator) Jeff Davidson, but they wouldn't allow that. So he just sleeps on a cot outside (QB coach) Mike McCoy's office. Then he stays in the film room just to act like he's watching film."
• EXCHANGE STUDENT: Training camp's going to be shorter this year because of the missing bodies from NFL Europe, as they usually had at least six roster exemptions for players from the now-defunct developmental league.
But the Panthers will have an 81st player in Spartanburg, since the league gave them an exempt international practice squad player for the year.
They drew English linebacker Shaun Smith, who played two years in NFLE. He also played for a team called the Southern Sun Devils, which should put him in good stead in Spartanburg.
This experiment can't end worse than the last time, when linebacker Aden Durde joined the team in a similar arrangement in 2005. It didn't help that he wasn't much of a player, not even able to offer good practice reps. But the capper was when he was eventually sent home after violating the league's steroid policy.
• EXTRA POINTS: Even though they've essentially agreed to a deal with fifth-round tight end Gary Barnidge, the paperwork won't go through until early this week. That's when they'll make the corresponding cuts. ...
The deals with seventh-rounders Geoff Schwartz and Hilee Taylor are the ultimate in formalities at this point, since the players beneath them in the draft order are signed, providing a hard floor for negotiations. Taylor's boxed in, since the guy chosen before him is signed, as well, making it a matter of splitting the difference in bonus and moving on.