Panthers playing with fire regarding contract extensions

(Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) Marty Hurney
(Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) Marty Hurney /

Taylor Moton and Curtis Samuel are after new deals with the Carolina Panthers. But that doesn’t appear likely in the near future.

The Carolina Panthers are backing themselves into a corner regarding possible contract extensions for star duo Taylor Moton and Curtis Samuel.

Both players are heading into the final year of their respective rookie deals and it remains to be seen whether this is going to be coming their way during the season. The Carolina Panthers have more salary-cap space available next spring should they wish to get a deal done with either. But their focus on football at the present time might be something that comes back to haunt them.

General manager Marty Hurney outlined in recent media availability that no discussions are taking place with either Moton or Samuel regarding a new deal. This is somewhat surprising when one considers the number of players who are getting extensions before competitive action gets underway, and this puts the onus squarely on the players’ shoulders to produce the goods when it matters most.

This could become a real headache for the Carolina Panthers in 2021.

If they can prove their worth to the Panthers in the coming months, then they are going to be in a commanding position at the bargaining table once the season comes to a conclusion.

One could argue that the situation is more important with Moton, who has emerged as one of the NFL’s brightest young protectors and it is imperative for Carolina to keep him around during this period of transition.

Moton gave up five sacks and six penalties in 2019. But he was playing on a porous offensive line and you only have to look at the 76.2 grade from Pro Football Focus to see just how well he performed in the face of adversity.  He is set to command an annual salary of $14 million on his next contract, according to Spotrac, and it would be prudent for the Panthers to give him whatever he wants with another impressive season of production under his belt.

The former second-round pick is a prime candidate for the franchise tag if they cannot come to an arrangement in time. Their deficiencies across the offensive line have been there for all to see in recent seasons. But Moton is the Panthers’ one shining light and if he were to take his chances elsewhere, it would be nothing short of a disaster.

There is a more complex situation developing with Samuel. The wide receiver showed incredible promise in 2019 after suffering some frustrations with injury since arriving in Carolina as a second-round selection out of Ohio State. But what sort of deal the multi-purpose weapon receives will be largely down to how he performs next time around.

The Panthers fielded some calls regarding Samuel’s availability during the 2020 NFL Draft without anything concrete coming from it. The wideout has a lot of likable traits to call upon and a big campaign could be in the offing if he takes another step forward in offensive coordinator Joe Brady’s exciting scheme.

Samuel has been a little inconsistent at training camp, by all accounts. However, he is a player who thrives on the big stage and there won’t be that much attention on him in the grand scheme of things given the outstanding weapons elsewhere in Carolina.

The wideout might not be willing to accept a No. 3 role and will consider taking his chances elsewhere. If this eventuality plays out then it is going to call into question the Panthers’ decision not to get something in return when they had the chance.

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This is a precarious situation that Carolina faces and it has the potential to be momentum-swinging in terms of their current rebuild.