Update: The Carolina Panthers have signed Cam Newton to a five-year extension worth $103.8 million with $60 million guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Newton will now earn $31 million for the upcoming season, currently making him the highest paid player in 2015.

“I’ve said all along, Cam is our franchise quarterback and we are absolutely thrilled that we got the extension done,” GM Dave Gettleman said. “It allows us to do the long-term planning that we need to do to make sure that he’s surrounded with players and that we can continue to build this team.”

Quarterback and former first overall pick, Cam Newton, is close to inking a deal that would keep him a Carolina Panther through the 2020 season, according to ESPN.

Can Newton Contract Extension

Going into the 2015 season, Cam Newton, the former first overall pick, was entering the last year of his four-year $22 million deal. And heading into the offseason, the Panthers made it priority number one to start working on a contract extension with their franchise quarterback.

And again, Ryan Tannehill’s massive contract extension, worth $96 million with $45 million guaranteed, has set precedents for mid to high level QB deals. As a result, a player like Cam Newton, who has more experience and is better than the Dolphins quarterback, should expect money north of that number. So at the moment, it is believed that Cam could be signing a huge extension worth around $20 to $21 million a season, according to ESPN 730 radio in Charlotte.

Now, while the public could only wait and see where the numbers truly lie, this would be the going rate for a QB at his caliber. Yes, Newton played mediocre last year due to injury, but he is still third all-time in most touchdowns — rushing and passing — through first four seasons with 115: he sits behind Dan Marino (144) and Peyton Manning (118). On top of this, he also put up 14,426 passing yards, 2,571 rushing yards and a completion percentage of 59.5.

However, there are two major problems with this deal: Newton has suffered from the lack of variety around him and he has taken way too much punishment over the years. As for the former, they have made some attempts to solidify the offensive line and added a bit of depth to the Panthers already depleted wide receiver core, but was that enough? This money will certainly tie up future cap space, which could hinder the team in the long run. And Newton only has a 30-31-1 overall record and is 1-2 in the playoffs, which is not amazing.

At the same time, Cam Newton has been hit the most over the last four seasons (531), according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The closest behind him are Ryan Fitzpatrick (272), Alex Smith (257) and Joe Flacco (254). Basically, how much more could his body take without simply breaking down? Will he play smarter after the contract or continue down this very dangerous path? These are all things the Panthers should be worried about when giving franchise QB money to a running quarterback.

Still, Newton is worthy of the going franchise quarterback rate. Only time will tell if he could hurdle the next barrier and make the Panthers a Super Bowl contenders: yet if that was possible in any division, it is certainly plausible in the NFC South.

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