Carolina will have to make some tough choices this offseason, including whether to extend Newton now or wait. The Panthers enter the offseason with approximately $15 million in cap space but have a bevy of free agents of their own including defensive end Greg Hardy, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and safety Mike Mitchell.
Newton is scheduled to make $7 million next season before becoming a free agent. Should Carolina try to extend him, it could lower his cap number now and pass costs to a later date. Looking at recent quarterback contracts, Newton is going to get paid in a big way.
This offseason, Jay Cutler was given a seven-year extension worth $126 million. Last offseason, Joe Flacco signed for six years and $120 million. Even Matt Ryan, who was just called not-elite by Tony Gonzalez, signed an extension of five years and $102 million. In other words, look for Newton to earn somewhere around $18-20 million per season with a new contract.
Newton has been one of the more productive players in the NFL over the past two seasons, making the Pro Bowl in each campaign. While he has not put up gaudy passing numbers, Newton more than makes up for it by being a constant threat to run.
Last year, Newton threw for 3,379 yards and 24 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He also ran for 585 yards and six touchdowns while leading Carolina to a 12-4 record, and its first NFC South title and playoff berth during his career.
The one concern for Newton might be landing a large contract while his numbers have steadily gone down each season. His passing yards and yards per attempt have dropped each year since 2011. He rushed for 706 yards and 14 touchdowns as a rookie.
Still, the is winning with Newton playing a more controlled game. Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman will have to take that into account.