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Cam Newton, Panthers reach $103.8M extension

The Carolina Panthers are tying their future to Cam Newton.

Newton signed a five-year extension that will keep him under team control through the 2020 season, the Panthers announced on Tuesday. The deal is worth $103.8 million with Newton receiving $67.6 million over the first three years, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source involved in the situation.

Rapoport added the extension contains $60 million in guarantees, including $31 million in the first year of the deal. His total contract (five years, $103.8 million) averages roughly the same per year ($20.75 million) as Matt Ryan's deal with Atlanta. 

Bandwidth and air time will be wasted this week debating whether Newton is worthy of such a contract with more guaranteed money than Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Tannehill and Andy Dalton.

It's an unalterable reality of 21st century football that teams fortunate enough to boast a quarterback identified as the face of the franchise pay what it takes to maintain that luxury.

The Panthers clearly value Newton as a legitimate franchise quarterback with his best years on the immediate horizon.

Beyond the monetary commitment, the front office has retooled the surrounding talent to suit his strengths and weaknesses.

For all of Newton's unique physical gifts, the Panthers understand that his throwing mechanics come and go, often leading to scattershot ball placement. When he's wild, he tends to be wild high.

General manager David Gettleman promptly overhauled Carolina's entire wide receiver corps, replacing smaller, less physical skill-position players with behemoths featuring huge strike zones -- such as Greg Olsen, Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess.

The quarterback and middle linebacker (Luke Kuechly) are the load-bearing walls upon which this roster is built.

As perhaps the NFL's streakiest passer, the 26-year-old Newton isn't without his detractors.

Prior to the Panthers' mid-season turnaround last year, one NFC general manager opined to ESPN that Newton "might be two years away from being finished."

That short-sighted assessment ignores the strides Newton has made in game management, growing savvier with pre-snap adjustments, showing more decisiveness and getting through his progressions at a faster rate.

Before he was released by the Panthers, franchise icon Steve Smith noted that Newton had finally graduated "from checkers to chess."

Newton is the first quarterback in NFC South history to lead his team to back-to-back division titles. He's already one of the NFL's top dozen signal-callers.

The Panthers understand that he is also a rare talent with the potential to develop into one of the league's most unstoppable forces.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast discusses the latest news including Cam Newton's massive contract extension and the return of Adrian Peterson. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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