Talks between the Carolina Panthers and quarterback Cam Newton about a potential contract extension have not yet begun, but Newton said Monday he knows how he wants them to end.
In an interview with the Observer on Monday, Newton said he’s hopeful he will remain a Panther long-term.
“My agreement with the Panthers, it’s not something that you can just say off the top of your head,” Newton said. “My relationship with (Panthers owner and founder) Mr. (Jerry) Richardson runs deep. Hopefully I will be able to get that long-term deal because Charlotte is a place that I can call home.”
Newton is among the top priorities for the team this offseason, along with defensive end Greg Hardy, followed by the team’s other 20 unrestricted free agents.
The relative silence from the Panthers isn’t only for Newton. Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said last week that he had yet to hear from the team about a potential new deal, and that he didn’t think anyone else had yet as Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman finished evaluating the team and salary cap with his staff.
Negotiations with Newton and others could start as early as later this week at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, according to a source.
The Panthers have various deadlines for certain moves, but the noise will intensify as the March 11 start of free agency draws near.
Newton signed a four-year, $22 million contract after the Panthers selected him No. 1 overall in the 2011 draft. He was the first player drafted under the new collective bargaining agreement, which slashed the gaudy initial contracts for top picks under the previous CBA.
Among the Panthers’ options with Newton now are signing him to a long-term extension this year or next, taking the fifth-year option on his contract, or exercising the option and using a franchise tag in his sixth year, although the final scenario is the least likely.
Newton is set to earn nearly $3.4 million in 2014 with a cap hit of just more than $7 million. Because Newton was the first player drafted under the new CBA, projecting the details of a second contract is difficult, but Newton’s camp could start with Lions quarterback and 2009 No. 1 pick Matthew Stafford’s five-year, $76 million extension before the 2013 season.
A fifth-year option – for the average yearly salary of the 10 highest-paid quarterbacks – would cost the team about $13 million, according to the National Football Post.
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said in a January interview with the Observer that he plans to start with “a fair offer” to Newton. Gettleman did not say whether that would be this offseason or the next, but if both sides want one another, “you come to an agreement.”
Newton made it clear the city of Charlotte and the Panthers organization mean a lot to him.
“Charlotte will always be embedded in my heart as being the first place that I’ve had a job at, and I don’t even really call it my job,” Newton said. “And that’s why I’m so passionate about giving back to Charlotte. There’s no greater feeling how those guys come and support the Panthers, support me, support the whole team on Sundays.”
One option not on the table for Newton is a contract holdout. In an interview earlier Monday with the Dan Patrick Show, Newton said he would “absolutely not” consider holding out of training camp and potentially beyond for a bigger deal because of his leadership role on the team.
Jones: 704-358-5323; Twitter: @jjones9