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Panthers, rookie DT Derrick Brown agree to 4-year, $23.6M deal

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers on Friday reached a four-year, fully guaranteed $23.621 million deal with former Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown, agent Drew Rosenhaus confirmed to ESPN.

This makes the No. 7 overall pick the first first-rounder of the 2020 draft to reach an agreement.

The Panthers selected Brown over Clemson's do-it-all linebacker Isaiah Simmons because they felt the 6-foot-5, 326-pounder could make an immediate impact next to Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kawann Short, who spent last season on injured reserve recovering from a shoulder injury.

"We had them very close together, obviously,'' general manager Marty Hurney said of Brown and Simmons after the draft. "We believed you start building from the front. Derrick not only helps [Short] and the rest of the line... he helps the linebackers. He's a big, powerful player. He's got a good first step. He's a three-down player. He obviously helps against the run, but he really gets push up the middle.

"I met with him after the season. I really didn't think he would make it to seven.''

Facing NFC South quarterbacks Tom Brady (Tampa Bay), Drew Brees (New Orleans) and Matt Ryan (Atlanta) twice a year made it imperative, in the eyes of first-year coach Matt Rhule, that he build a defense that can provide a great inside push and stop the run.

"What we need to do, especially now that we're getting [Short] healthy, is have some interior guys that really can get in the face of the quarterbacks in this league,'' Rhule said. "We have three established quarterbacks in the NFC South.

"When Derrick was there we felt very strongly about taking him.''