There are a lot of big fish and not much oil to fry them in. This is the problem with projecting a contract extension for Cam Newton in 2014. The Carolina Panthers are addressing their most pressing needs right now, but waiting to lock up their franchise quarterback could prove to be a dangerous misstep.
Dave Gettleman has done some good work this offseason. Getting veterans to restructure their deals is never a foregone conclusion and the money gained has allowed Carolina to actually make some moves this summer. Greg Hardy has been at the forefront, with his $13.1M franchise tag dominating the discussion -- while news of Newton has been relatively quiet. He's the franchise's No.1 priority, make no mistake, just not this year.
There are plenty of logical reasons why waiting makes sense. No need to rush a signing just because, especially when Newton is on a cap-friendly deal with a rise in salary on the horizon. That said, the 49ers are already working to retain Colin Kaepernick long term -- that's not a good thing.
Kaepernick is seeking an extension that tops Jay Cutler and Tony Romo, according to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. That deal would pay him over $18 million per season with around $40 million in guarantees. That's five million more than Sam Bradford made as the No.1 overall pick in 2010.
Some would argue that Kaepernick is more accomplished than Newton because of his playoff success, but that's a tenuous notion at best. Fandom aside: He is not as highly regarded as the Panthers' quarterback in NFL circles and doesn't have as prestigious a resume. However, San Francisco are getting out ahead of the market to lock up their player which could have huge benefits.
There's an inherent problem in Carolina sitting back and letting it happen. It means that whatever Kaepenick gets Newton will want more, it's just a matter of how much more. It's wholly possible we could see contract demands of more than $19 million a year and close to $50 million guaranteed. Rookie of the year, two Pro Bowls, a pattern of success -- that's what Carolina will pay for.
A rising salary cap had become the MacGuffin by which fans in these parts are motivated to explain why waiting makes sense. More money gained, more to spend. However, this is largely a spurious notion that doesn't account for how all 32 teams will have more in the coffers. The result will be inflating salaries, not shrinking ones. A cap rise league-wide will see everyone spend more, meaning the promise of greater cap solvency thanks to a higher ceiling is tenuous at best.
Working on a Newton extension right now gets ahead of two tides: Firstly Kaepernick's looming extension, then the rising salary cap. Waiting until next year means that not only will San Francisco set the market for quarterbacks (one that will be eclipsed by Newton) but also that a rise in overall money gives an agent ammunition.
It wont be until 2015 that Newton gets his; assuming Hardy doesn't not sign a long term deal. There simply isn't the money to keep the defensive end on a franchise tag and sign Newton. The wait for 2015 starts now and it remains to be seen if that's the right move.