Panthers need players with Cole's attitude

Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Colin Cole didn't get consideration for NFL comeback player of the year in 2013, even though he started 13 games for the league's No. 2 defense after being out of football for two years.

But the Panthers would like Cole to come back for another year if the price is right.

The Charlotte Observer reported this past weekend that Carolina was negotiating with Cole. Re-signing Cole, 33, for another year makes sense and he likely would come at the bargain price that general manager Dave Gettleman wants, having played last season for the veteran minimum.

He would provide a big body (6-2, 335) for a defense that begins with stopping the run last season. And he'll provide veteran leadership for a team that relied heavily on rookie tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short in 2013.

He's also a good story. After starting 26 games for the Seattle Seahawks in 2009 and 2010, Cole suffered an ankle injury that put him on injured reserve and ultimately required four surgeries to repair.

He began the 2011 training camp on injured reserve, and was released at the end of training camp. No team signed him that season or in 2012 even though Cole was healthy.

Last year, Cole cold-called the Panthers and asked if they needed a tackle. He scheduled his own workout, negotiated his own deal and became the first player signed under Gettleman.

Cole didn't have to go far for the workout, either. He and his wife, from Aiken, S.C., were already living in the Charlotte suburbs.

"Every rep that I get is a great opportunity," Cole said this past season. "The last two years I was sitting at home. I have the opportunity to be out on the field. And every chance on the practice field, in the weight room, in the classroom and obviously on game day, every chance I get to step on the field, I’m just ecstatic that I have the opportunity.

"I have a different perspective than most guys. And I'm going to take full advantage as much as I can."

What Cole lacked in statistics -- 15 tackles, one sack -- last season, he more than made up for in locker room and field presence.

That is the kind of role model that helped the Panthers to a 12-4 record last season. It should come as no surprise that they'd want to keep that kind of influence around this coming season.