The Carolina Panthers are continuing their contract talks with Cam Newton, although the franchise quarterback might not be in a rush to re-sign.
Newton’s representatives were scheduled to meet with the Panthers on Saturday at the NFL scouting combine, according to a league source with knowledge of the meeting.
With Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck in line for record-breaking deals, Newton is content to let those negotiations reset the market for quarterbacks, according to two league sources.
Then, sources say, if the Panthers’ offer meets Newton’s expectations, he is interested in remaining with Carolina for the long-term.
Luck and Wilson are expected to become the two highest-paid players in league history this offseason. The Colts are working on a deal with Luck worth $25million a year, according to an ESPN report last month.
Wilson, the former N.C. State standout who has played in two consecutive Super Bowls, is in line for a similar contract. Wilson could become the first quarterback to receive a fully guaranteed extension, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported last week.
New Orleans’ Drew Brees set the current threshold for quarterbacks at $20million per year in 2012, and four quarterbacks – Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco – received comparable deals in 2013.
Newton’s deal likely would fall closer to those from the latter group than Luck and Wilson, some industry experts think.
The Panthers made an initial offer of a long-term contract to Newton before last season, although those negotiations did not progress far.
Newton is set to make a guaranteed $14.7million in 2015 after the Panthers picked up the club option for his fifth season. Then he becomes a free agent, although the Panthers could use the franchise tag and keep him through at least 2016. But by using the franchise tag, the Panthers would take a salary cap hit because the money would count for one season rather than being spread out over the length of a longer contract.
Newton’s representatives are not interested in any deal resembling the one received by San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick last year. Kaepernick’s contract includes de-escalators that decrease his compensation by $2million a year following any season in which the 49ers don’t make it to the Super Bowl or Kaepernick is not an All-Pro. Newton wants more guaranteed money, sources say.
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman has said repeatedly he views Newton as his franchise quarterback. Gettleman declined to talk about Newton’s contract status last week at the combine.
Newton, the No.1 overall pick 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.
DeAngelo Williams likely gone
A year after the Panthers cut all-time receiving leader Steve Smith, the franchise rushing leader’s time in Charlotte looks to be nearing an end. DeAngelo Williams turns 32 in April and his body started breaking down last season.
Jonathan Stewart reminded fans what he can do when healthy last season, while Fozzy Whittaker emerged as a change-of-pace option. The Panthers can save about $2million in cap room by designating Williams as a post-June 1 cut.
Gettleman, who recently sat down with Williams, appears to be trying to handle Williams’ situation better than he did Smith’s departure. Twice in recent weeks he’s called Williams a “pro’s pro” and praised the way he finished the season, which might have been his last with Carolina.
Keeping their own
The Panthers have only 11 unrestricted free agents and one of them is Greg Hardy, who is not expected to return.
The Panthers’ list of free agents includes veteran defensive tackles Dwan Edwards and Colin Cole, who will be 34 and 35, respectively, at the start of next season. Third-year players Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short are the interior rocks to build on, but the Panthers like to use a rotation at tackle and Edwards finished last season strong. Don’t be surprised if one or both of the older tackles are back on short-term deals.
The Panthers also are interested in tight end Ed Dickson, who was a good receiving complement to Greg Olsen down the stretch after injuries forced him to play fullback for part of the season.
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