On Monday morning, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton told The Dan Patrick Show (I know because I was listening, and I was listening because I was hosting) that Newton won’t hold out to get a new contract.
He may not have to. A new contract may be coming anyway.
According to Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, negotiations between Newton and the Panthers “could start” later this week, at the Scouting Combine. That sort of broad report could invite a smart remark that anything “could” happen this week, but the Scouting Combine provides a convenient framework for negotiations.
But here’s the reality: The Panthers already have their hands full with guys whose contracts are expiring, and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn recently has said the team has yet to start negotiating with its looming free agent. Any time spent negotiating with Newton now is less time that would be available to negotiate with the agents for other players operating on a more pressing timeline — especially since Newton has made it clear he won’t be holding out.
Because a new deal wouldn’t do much to chop down a $7 million cap number for 2014 (if anything, the cap number would go up), the Panthers gain no benefit for cap purposes by doing a new deal now. If anything, it makes more sense to do it after the Panthers have accomplished their contract restructurings/terminations and free-agency spending (or lack thereof), which could result in more cap space being available for Newton.
Regardless, Newton has acknowledged that he eventually wants a new contract, at some point.
“Hopefully I will be able to get that long-term deal because Charlotte is a place that I can call home,” Newton told Jones on Monday.
The Panthers surely will give him one, at the right time. With one year left on his rookie deal and a fifth-year option for 2015, the Panthers have plenty of time to wait. If Newton’s not going to hold out, there’s no reason to rush it.