A year after the Panthers gave running back DeAngelo Williams $21 million guaranteed on a five-year deal, running back Jonathan Stewart received $23 million guaranteed on a five-year extension.
A league source tells PFT that Stewart receives $11.5 million fully guaranteed in 2012, with another $11.5 million that is guaranteed for injury only until the third day of the 2013 waiver period, at which time it becomes fully guaranteed.
Stewart’s compensation for 2012 includes a $9 million signing bonus. He’s also due a $9 million option bonus in 2013. The other $5 million in guarantees comes from base salaries.
The deal averages $7.3 million per year, with annual escalators of $1.5 million in 2015, 2016, and 2017 based on 1,200 yards rushing or 1,600 yards rushing and receiving. Another $500,000 in each of those years is available based on higher levels of performance.
Stewart, who was due to earn $1.311 million in 2012, opted to do a deal now and avoid the franchise tag in 2013. And with the veteran running-back market considerably softer than it used to be, it made sense to take the $23 million now.
Especially since Stewart has rushed for only 3,500 yards in four NFL seasons, with a career-low 761 yards in 2011.