The Carolina Panthers have made a number of important moves this offseason but nothing would compare to a contract extension for quarterback Cam Newton. The two sides started discussing this a few months ago, back at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins were able to come to terms on a contract extension with their franchise quarterback on Monday. Ryan Tannehill signed a four-year extension worth $77 million, $45 million of which is guaranteed. The deal is added to the two years left on his rookie contract and will keep him under contract through 2020.
This certainly raises the question of how does Tannehill’s contract affect Newton’s asking price in negotiations?
The short answer is that it doesn’t affect it a great deal. As Joe Person wrote back in February, the bench mark for Newton will be Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck’s new contracts. Wilson, who will be a free agent after the 2015 season, and Luck, who will be a free agent after the 2016 season, are expected to receive substantial raises in the near future.
Similar to Wilson, Newton will be a free agent after this season however the Panthers could decide to use the franchise tag and keep him under contract through 2016. A long term deal certainly would be beneficial for both sides though with Newton receiving a long term commitment from the Panthers. A contract extension would help the Panthers as well because they would be able to spread the deal over a number of years versus tying up a substantial part of their salary cap in a one-year deal.
The one thing the Tannehill deal does do for Newton’s contract negotiations is that it gives them a base line. It helps set negotiating parameters and brings the quarterback market in focus.
Newton’s resume is much stronger than Tannehill, averaging 50 more yards per game (passing and rushing) and almost a half a touchdown more per game (1.85 for Newton, 1.39 for Tannehill) over their careers. Newton’s teams have also been more successful with two division titles and one playoff win compared to none in either category for Tannehill.
As the Panthers and Newton’s representatives continue to negotiate a new deal, both sides should come to the table with the expectation that a new contract will be north of Tannehill’s contract extension. However, this isn’t the important extension and a contract extension shouldn’t be expected for Newton until Wilson and/or Luck agree to terms on their new deals.