5:00pm: Based on tweets from Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer and ESPN.com’s David Newton, it sounds like the option pickup isn’t quite finalized yet, but the team is in the process of making it official.
4:14pm: The Panthers have officially exercised their fifth-year option on quarterback Cam Newton, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network (via Twitter). The move ensures that Newton remains under contract with the club through the 2015 season.
As the first overall pick in the 2011 draft, Newton is eligible for a 2015 salary equivalent to the 2014 transition tag amount for QBs, meaning his ’15 salary will be $14.666MM. Although that’ll be the largest fifth-year salary for any members of the 2011 draft class, it’s still a good price for the Panthers, given the going rate for franchise quarterbacks.
Still, even with Newton now formally locked up for two more seasons, Carolina will presumably keep working on a longer-term deal for the 24-year-old. Newton had perhaps his best all-around season in 2013, leading the Panthers to a division title and a first-round bye. He’ll have his work cut out for him in 2014, after the club’s top four receivers from 2013 departed in free agency and standout offensive tackle Jordan Gross opted to retire.
Panthers GM Dave Gettleman first said nearly a month ago that the club would pick up its 2015 option on Newton. To keep tabs on all of this year’s fifth-year option decisions, be sure to check out our tracker.