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Top five Carolina Panthers hoping to earn a new contract this season

It’s a mixed bag of players who already deserve a new contract and those we hope earn one.

Carolina Panthers v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers will have a lot of “new” during the 2020 season, and there are several players hoping to earn a new contract with their play this year. Let’s take a look at the top five Panthers hoping to earn a new contract this season.

OT Russell Okung

CONTRACT TERMS: 4 yr(s) / $53 million

SIGNING BONUS: $10 million AVERAGE SALARY: $13.25 million

GTD AT SIGN: $25 million TOTAL GTD: $25 million

You may recall Okung (32) came over in a trade with the Los Angeles Chargers for Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner. Okung is on the last year of a four year deal that pays him a little over $13 million in 2020. I’m sure he would love a new deal but I would hope the Panthers want to see him on the field first. During the 2019 offseason, Okung suffered a pulmonary embolism due to blood clots in his lungs. He was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list to start the season but did play the final six games. I don’t see the blood clots as a big concern at the moment so I’m very hopeful the two-time Pro Bowler can return to form. It would be nice to have the left tackle position locked down for the next three or four season to round out his career.

WR Curtis Samuel

CONTRACT TERMS: 4 yr(s) / $6.45 million SIGNING BONUS: $2.8 million

AVERAGE SALARY: $1.6 million GTD AT SIGN: $4.05 million TOTAL GTD: $4.05 million

Samuel was one of the bigger disappointments for me in 2019. I really thought he would be the wide receiver to top 1,000 yards instead of DJ Moore. Man I got that one wrong. Samuel only finished with 627 yards on 54 catches with six touchdowns. Yes it was an increase from 2018 but it was not near enough. Samuel is definitely staring at free agency if he doesn’t make bigger strides in 2020. I think he has the talent but he now has more competition for targets than he did in 2019. He’s going to need to show he has the big play ability that got him drafted.

OT Taylor Moton

CONTRACT TERMS: 4 yr(s) / $4 million SIGNING BONUS: $1.1 million

AVERAGE SALARY: $1 million GTD AT SIGN: $2.28 million TOTAL GTD: $2.28 million

Many people thought Moton was a reach in the second round of the 2016 draft but he has proven the Panthers made a good pick. Pro Football Focus ranked Moton as the 17th best tackle in the league in 2019. Moton has already earned a new contract in my view, it’s really all about the timing at this point. The smart play by the Panthers would be to lock up Moton before the 2020 season even starts if they have the cap space. There is no need to quibble about this one.

C Tyler Larsen

CONTRACT TERMS: 2 yr(s) / $4.3 million SIGNING BONUS: $1.4 million

AVERAGE SALARY: $2.15 million GTD AT SIGN: $1.4 million TOTAL GTD: $1.4 million

For the past two seasons Larsen has battled for the starting job at center, but ended up a back-up and special teams player. In four total season he has zero starts. His only competition in 2020 is starter Matt Paradis who was horrendous in pass protection in 2019. If neither player steps up the Panthers could have a new starter in place at some point in the near future. Larson won’t find a better opportunity anywhere else.

CB Eli Apple

CONTRACT TERMS: 1 yr(s) / $3 million SIGNING BONUS: $750K

AVERAGE SALARY: $3 million GTD AT SIGN: $750K

The Panthers need a capable cornerback so badly I included Apple (24) on this list even though he just signed a one-year deal. If he plays well then I’m sure they would offer the former 1st round pick a longer deal. That is a big ‘If’ though as we have seen a couple teams give up on him. It may be more of an attitude problem though rather than talent. Apple has tons of talent, the issue is cutting down the mistakes. He’s got a season to prove he deserves a multi-year deal. I’m pulling for him.

All contract data courtesy of Spotrac.