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2014 CAROLINA PANTHERS

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Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s agent not surprised by fifth-year option

COLUMBIA Bus Cook, the agent for South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, took a break from his Clowney dealings Wednesday after the Gamecocks’ pro day to discuss another client – Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

Cook was asked about Newton’s recent ankle surgery and the Panthers’ intention to exercise their club option for 2015 on Newton, and expressed no misgivings about either.

Cook, the Mississippi-based agent who also represents Russell Wilson, Calvin Johnson and Brett Favre, said Newton is recovering well after March 19 surgery to tighten the ligaments in his left ankle.

“He’s doing fine,” Cook said from the stands at Williams-Brice Stadium. “I mean, Cam’s a big, strong, tough kid. So he’ll be fine.”

Newton injured the ankle in two of the final three games, including the playoff loss to San Francisco. When he was still experiencing pain in the ankle last month, Newton returned to Charlotte, had an MRI and underwent surgery two weeks ago.

Newton, who missed only a handful of snaps because of injury during his first three seasons, is expected to be sidelined for the Panthers’ organized team activities this spring but should be back for training camp at the end of July.

Cook said he wasn’t surprised to hear the Panthers plan to use the fifth-year club option on Newton. General manager Dave Gettleman said last week the Panthers would use the option, which must be exercised by May 3.

The move would guarantee Newton a salary of $14.7 million for 2015, although the two sides could continue to work on a long-term extension after the option is picked up.

The new collective bargaining agreement limited the guaranteed money first-round picks received in their initial, four-year contracts, and gave clubs control of the fifth year, as well. Newton signed a four-year deal worth a guaranteed $22 million after the Panthers drafted him first overall in 2011.

Cook said he expected most teams to use the fifth-year option on first-round picks from 2011.

“There are a few that won’t do it. But I suspect most of the teams will,” Cook said. “It’ll still give you time to work on another deal if that’s the case. If they don’t use it, they lose it. But if they do use it, then it just buys more time.

“So either way. But I strongly feel that they’ll pretty much exercise that option.”

Wharton wavering: Panthers free agent guard Travelle Wharton looked a little leaner while attending pro day at South Carolina, where he was a four-year starter for the Gamecocks from 2000-2003.

Wharton said he’s shed a couple of pounds but nothing like the 25 left tackle Jordan Gross lost that were a tip-off Gross planned to retire. Wharton said Wednesday’s he’s “leaning” toward following fellow offensive linemen Geoff Hangartner and Gross into retirement.

Wharton, who turns 33 in May, played well in 12 starts last season after the Panthers signed him in August following injuries to a couple of their young guards. With Amini Silatolu recovered from ACL surgery and expected to re-claim his starting spot, Wharton and his wife are keeping their options open.

“I love football. And that’s the biggest thing. It would be easy if I didn’t like football to say, ‘All right, I’m done,’ ” Wharton said. “I wrestle with it. I’m keeping everything open. Who knows? But we’re leaning toward (retirement).”

Person: 704-358-5123; Twitter: @josephperson
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