Ed Dickson: Panthers can 'get to the top of the mountain' by keeping their own

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- That the Carolina Panthers aren’t reloading with free agents from other teams doesn’t concern tight end Ed Dickson.

"It says a lot about what they believe in," Dickson said on Thursday after officially signing his new three-year deal worth $6.8 million with a $2 million signing bonus. "They believe in keeping their own. They believe in keeping it in-house, and they believe in the guys that battled for them last year.

"It’s driven in this league to be all business, but when you can find coaches and a staff that believe in certain guys and don’t want to just change it every year, I think you can get great things out of our team."

Dickson is the ninth player to re-sign with the Panthers. He agreed to the deal on Monday, but didn’t officially sign it until passing a physical on Thursday.

The only new additions are offensive tackle Michael Oher and wide receiver/kick returner Ted Ginn, both signed after being released by their respective teams.

Carolina hasn’t signed a player from another team since the new league year began at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Again, Dickson isn’t concerned. He believes keeping the core of a team that won the NFC South the past two seasons was more important than making a splash in free agency.

"When you start something, you want to see it finish out," he said. "That’s one thing that drove me to come back. We started a great thing. We got to the second round of the playoffs. I think we can get to the top of the mountain."

Dickson signed a one-year deal with Carolina prior to last season with the assurance the team would go to a two-tight end-set that would take advantage of his skills as a receiver opposite Greg Olsen.

He started 10 games, but spent much of the season as a blocking back with fullback Mike Tolbert on injured reserve for eight games. Olsen caught a career-high 84 passes for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns en route to his first Pro Bowl selection.

Dickson caught only 13 passes for 182 yards (including two playoff games), but seven of those catches came after Tolbert returned.

"Down the stretch, Ed played a very valuable role for us," coach Ron Rivera said in a team news release. "Ed brings us that second tight end threat. He’s a guy that can both block and catch effectively.

"He and Greg Olsen give us a very good tandem."

Dickson says he, Olsen, and Brandon Williams can be the most formidable group of tight ends in the NFC South. With New Orleans trading perennial Pro Bowler Jimmy Graham to Seattle, he’s probably right.

"I walked through the building today, and I see my two guys [Olsen, Williams] working out, making me feel like I’m behind," Dickson said. "That’s the type of guys we have in this locker room."

And that’s why Dickson isn’t worried about Carolina’s inactivity in free agency.

"No season is won in the offseason," he said.