Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers closing in on long-term contract

Cam Newton could be locked in with the Carolina Panthers in a long-term contract.
Cam Newton could be locked in with the Carolina Panthers in a long-term contract. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Negotiations between the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton intensified over the weekend and the two sides are close to finalizing a contract extension that would keep the franchise quarterback with the Panthers through the 2020 season, two league sources told the Observer on Monday.

A deal that could average upwards of $20 million could be done as early as Monday, one of the sources said.

Charlotte sports radio station ESPN730, which is owned by former Panthers general manager Marty Hurney, first reported the news of Newton’s imminent contract extension.

Newton, the No. 1 overall pick in 2011, is scheduled to make $14.67 million this season after the Panthers picked up their club option for his fifth year.

Bus Cook, who along with Tony Paige and Chitta Mallik represent Newton, declined comment when reached by phone Monday.

“I just can’t say anything,” Cook said.

A Panthers spokesman said the team wouldn’t have any comment until a deal is signed.

Newton, who set an NFL rookie passing record in 2011, made the Pro Bowl in two of his first three seasons and guided the Panthers to the first back-to-back playoff appearances in their history.

He won his first playoff game in January when the Panthers beat Arizona 27-16 in a wild-card game before falling to Seattle in the divisional round.

Despite battling injuries that sidelined him for two games in 2014, Newton became the only player in NFL history to start his career with four consecutive seasons with at least 3,000 passing yards and 500 rushing yards.

It has been an eventful 12 months for Newton.

He underwent offseason ankle surgery last March, and cracked a rib during the preseason that kept him out of the regular-season opener at Tampa Bay. Newton injured his back in a December wreck that sent him to the hospital overnight and totaled his pickup truck.

There was some thinking that Newton might be content to let Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck reset the quarterback market, both of whom could land deals worth as much as $25 million a year.

New Orleans’ Drew Brees set the current threshold for quarterbacks at $20 million per year in 2012, and four quarterbacks – Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco – received comparable deals in 2013.

But all those quarterbacks came into the league under the old collective bargaining agreement. Newton was the first player taken in the 2011 draft under the new CBA and its rookie pay scale.

Sam Bradford signed a six-year, $78 million contract when drafted in 2010 as the No. 1 pick. Newton, the No. 1 pick a year later under the new CBA, signed a four-year deal worth $22 million.

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, both of whom were drafted in the second round in 2011, signed long-term deals last year. Though both players could eventually earn upwards of $100 million in those respective deals, the contracts essentially become “show me” deals after the second year with dependence on incentives and protection against injury.

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill became the first first-round pick under the new CBA to sign a long-term extension less than two weeks ago. He signed a six-year extension worth $96 million, with $45 million guaranteed.

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Cam Newton is set to make an average of $20-21 million per year with his new contract, and that would put him among the top-five highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL.

Here’s a look at the top 10 quarterback contracts in the NFL based on average pay per year along with the projection for Newton.

Player; Team; Money per year; When contract signed; When drafted; 2014 Passer rating (rank); Super Bowl wins

Aaron Rodgers; Green Bay; $22 million; 2013; 2005 Round 1; 112.2 (2); 1

Ben Roethlisberger; Pittsburgh; $21.85 million; 2015; 2004 Round 1; 103.3 (3); 2

Matt Ryan; Atlanta; $20.75 million; 2013; 2008 Round 1; 93.9 (11); 0

Joe Flacco; Baltimore; $20.1 million; 2013; 2008 Round 1; 91.0 (16); 1

Drew Brees; New Orleans; $20 million; 2012; 2001 Round 2; 97.0 (6); 1

Cam Newton; Carolina; $20-21 million; 2015; 2011 Round 1; 82.1 (26); 0

Ryan Tannehill; Miami; $19.25 million; 2015; 2012 Round 1; 92.8 (14); 0

Peyton Manning; Denver; $19.2 million; 2012; 1998 Round 1; 101.5 (4); 1

Colin Kaepernick; San Francisco; $19 million; 2014; 2011 Round 2; 86.4 (20); 0

Jay Cutler; Chicago; $18.1 million; 2014; 2006 Round 1; 88.6 (17); 0

Tony Romo; Dallas; $18 million; 2013; 2003 undrafted; 113.2 (1); 0

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