It didn’t take long for acting GM Marty Hurney to get to work. The Panthers have agreed to an extension with offensive guard Trai Turner.
“Beyond excited today!!,” Turner tweeted. “Thank you to Mr. [Jerry] Richardson and the Panther family, I’ll be a Panther for four more years!!!”
The four-year deal is worth $45MM with $20.5MM guaranteed, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). The deal gives Turner a yearly average of $11.25MM per year and will enable him to be a free agent again at the age of 28.
Turner’s new deal gives him the third-highest yearly average of any guard in the NFL. Next year’s guard market will likely see the top guys eclipse Kevin Zeitler‘s $12MM/year average, so it’s a solid deal for the Panthers from a cap perspective. Meanwhile, Turner should be in position for another mega contract just as he enters his prime.
Turner, a former third round pick, was previously set to play out the 2017 season at a $1.931MM cap number. Presumably, the new deal will kick in starting with the 2018 season, giving him a sizable pay bump while keeping him under Panthers control through the 2021 campaign.
“Any time you’re able to secure someone like Trai, a two-time Pro Bowler and a staple of our offensive line, you’re very fortunate,” Hurney said in a statement. “The offensive line is a key to the team’s success and Trai is a very integral part of that. We’re extremely excited to have Trai under contract for the next five seasons.”
The ceiling for guards has been pushed higher thanks to recent free agent contracts inked by Zeitler (five years, $60MM) and Kelechi Osemele (five years, $58.5MM). Guards like Joel Bitonio (five years, $51.2MM), David DeCastro (five years, $50MM), Kyle Long (four years, $40MM), and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (five years, $42.4MM) also did their part by signing lucrative extensions with their respective teams.
Turner, 24, has started in every possible game over the last two years, earning back-to-back Pro Bowl nods. The advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus only gave him a so-so 72.2 overall score last season, placing him as just the 38th best guard in the NFL, but the Panthers believe he’s a much better player than that. In 2015, PFF rated Turner as one of the very best guards in the league.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.