The details of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s new contract have been trickling out.
While a five-year, $103 million extension is going to create some big salary cap numbers, the deal looks to be fair for both the Carolina Panthers and their franchise quarterback.
Newton’s full $31 million guarantee is what he gets at signing – a $22.5 million signing bonus, a $7.5 million roster bonus (due Saturday) and a $1 million salary. The NFL Network’s Albert Breer reports that Newton’s injury guarantee is $60 million.
Newton’s cap number this year drops from $14.7 million, the amount he was scheduled to make under the fifth-year option, to $13 million.
The remainder of Newton’s cap numbers, according to multiple reports, are as follows:
2016: $19.5 million
2017: $20.1 million
2018: $21.5 million
2019: $23.2 million
2020: $21.1 million
While Newton will take up a sizable chunk of the Panthers’ future caps, one agent said those numbers are on par with those of other franchise quarterbacks who have signed big deals.
Consider that Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson has cap numbers of $20 million this season and $15 million in 2016, and Newton’s cap hits don’t look so staggering, relative to his value to the team.
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said he’d been preparing to pay Newton since he publicly endorsed Newton as the franchise quarterback shortly after succeeding Marty Hurney in 2013.
Gettleman said Newton’s extension will give the Panthers cost certainty that would have been missing had the team allowed Newton to play this year under the club option and then potentially used the franchise tag on him in 2016 and ’17.
“The biggest thing it does for us is it gives us a fixed cost. You know what you’re dealing with,” Gettleman said. “And we’ve been very intentional and thoughtful about how we’re spending our money, and we’ll continue to do that. We’ve been planning for this.”
The Panthers also have been planning for middle linebacker Luke Kuechly’s payday.
Kuechly, like Newton, is a two-time Pro Bowler and former rookie of the year. The Panthers have picked up Kuechly’s club option for 2016, when he would make a guaranteed $11.1 million.
But as they did with Newton, the Panthers are likely to lock up Kuechly with a long-term deal before then.
The Panthers also have to address outside linebacker Thomas Davis, who is in the final year of his contract and wants an extension.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said hitting on draft picks has allowed the team to play a number of young players (with cheaper contracts), while taking care of deserving veterans (such as tight end Greg Olsen, who signed a three-year, $22.5 million extension in March.
“We’ve had so many young players that have played for us. We’ve been very fortunate with the draft picks we’ve had, starting with Cam and Luke, and then K.K. (Short) and Star (Lotulelei) as a (defensive tackle) tandem, and then last year with Kelvin (Benjamin),” Rivera said.
“As we continue to bring young players into the mix and into the fold, the veteran guys that are coming up, we’ll be able to take care of, which I really do appreciate Dave and his staff looking in that direction. I think we’re setting ourselves up as we go into training camp that we can most certainly limit those types of (contract) distractions.”
Meanwhile, Newton was still coming to grips with the size of his contract during a press conference Tuesday evening at Bank of America Stadium.
“For a person to come from College Park (Ga.), that doesn’t happen. It doesn’t,” he said. “I’m not saying that to brag. I’m saying it to say, ‘If I can do it, I promise you any person that puts their mind to it can pretty much do it.’”
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