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Report: Cota Signs Saints Offer

March 12, 1998

CHARLOTTE (AP) _ Carolina Panthers safety Chad Cota has signed an offer sheet with the New Orleans Saints worth $5.4 million over three years, The Charlotte Observer reported today.

The deal signed by Cota, a restricted free agent, contains several clauses that would likely void the deal should he still play for the Panthers, according to the newspaper. The triggers are based on whether the defense improves statistically over how it finished in the NFL rankings last season.

For example, the deal voids if the team improves one position in the league rankings in sacks. The Panthers finished 17th last season; the Saints can’t get any better because they finished first.

If the contract was voided, Cota, Carolina’s leading tackler in 1997, would become an unrestricted free agent following the 1998 season.

The Panthers have seven days to decide whether to match the offer and keep Cota, their starting strong safety. If they don’t match, the Saints would have to give the Panthers a seventh-round draft pick for compensation.

The Panthers already have matched the offer sheet for one other restricted free agent, keeping offensive lineman Matt Campbell with the three-year, $8 million deal he signed with the Miami Dolphins.

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