NFC Notes: Newton, Lynch, Bucs, 49ers, Cards

Because the Panthers already exercised his fifth-year option, Cam Newton will be Carolina’s quarterback in 2015 — technically, the option doesn’t become guaranteed until the start of the league year, but it’s highly unlikely that the club will rescind the $14.666MM offer before then. The Panthers still need to decide if the former No. 1 overall pick will be their signal-caller for the long-term, however, leading Joseph Person and Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer to examine Newton’s current level of play and the prospect of signing him to an extension.

While Person allows that Newton has regressed during the second half of the season, he points to the Panthers losing key pieces from both their offensive line and their receiving corps as reasons why Newton’s production has waned. Fowler, meanwhile, argues that due to the fragility of running quarterbacks, Carolina should take a “wait and see” approach” — let the 2015 season play out, and then determine if Newton is worth the franchise tag tender or a long-term deal. Back in August, PFR’s Luke Adams looked at the the possibility of the Newton and the Panthers agreeing to a multi-year pact.

More from the NFC:

  • Appearing on the NFL Network, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch spoke about the possibility of remaining in Seattle past 2014. “I’m still under contract (for 2015),” Lynch said (link via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times). “I haven’t even made it through this year. I’m chasing after another one of these [Super Bowl rings].” Lynch is due a $5MM base salary and a $2MM roster bonus next season, but the Seahawks can save $7MM by cutting the veteran RB.
  • In a piece scrutinizing the current head-coaching and front office landscape, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes that Lovie Smith is a candidate to be fired after the season. “It’s one thing to lose games,” a source said regarding Smith and the Buccaneers, “but to give up 35 points in a quarter?” A league insider also tells Volin that the 49ers will contemplate promoting defensive coordiantor Vic Fangio if Jim Harbaugh exits. “They just want someone with less noise,” said the source.
  • We passed along Josh Weinfuss of’s Cardinals-centric mailbag yesterday, but there is one additional item of note within, as Weinfuss points out that Arizona’s 2015 quarterback situation is extremely muddled. Coming off an ACL tear, Carson Palmer probably won’t be ready for OTAs, and while Drew Stanton is the Cards’ short-term remedy at the position, Logan Thomas figures to be the long-term answer. Therefore, the club will have to determine how to manage offseason reps, both in order to ready Stanton to be the starter, and to develop Thomas.

Rory Parks contributed to this post.

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