Carolina Panthers cannot be held to ransom by Curtis Samuel

(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) Curtis Samuel
(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) Curtis Samuel /

Curtis Samuel is looking for an extension ahead of free agency, but the Carolina Panthers cannot be held to ransom by the wide receiver.

The Carolina Panthers have plenty of big decisions to make this offseason. Arguably the biggest of all surrounds the future of wide receiver Curtis Samuel, who heads into this spring looking for a new deal and with plenty of momentum on his side after a sensational 2020 campaign that comes with its own set of complications moving forward.

There is no denying what Samuel brings to the table at this point. He is a dynamic playmaker who can impact the game all over the field and players like this don’t last long on the free-agent market should they become available.

This bears even more significance in Samuel’s case, who is clearly trending in the right direction after going over 1,000 all-purpose yards for the first time this season. His reliability in crucial moments of games really benefitted the Panthers and has seen his asking price regarding a new deal potentially skyrocket as a result.

Carolina Panthers need to prioritize this offseason.

Given how tight finances are expected to be with the salary-cap coming down due to COVID-19 revenue losses – coupled with the need to tie down stud right tackle Taylor Moton to a lucrative extension – and it’s not hard to see why Carolina has a potential problem on their hands.

Moton is priority No. 1, of that there is little doubt.

But losing Samuel would be a body blow to the Panthers in no uncertain terms.

They will obviously offer the wideout a new deal in the coming weeks in keeping with what they can afford. However, Samuel will know full-well what he can get from another team looking to acquire his services and it wouldn’t’ be a surprise to see him try to use this as a bargaining tool when all parties get to the negotiating table.

Getting into a bidding war would not end well for the Panthers.

So no matter how good Samuel is, they should not be held to ransom.

The Panthers need to utilize their available financial resources wisely in free agency. They have a number of holes that need to be filled and jeopardizing their current rebuild by overpaying for Samuel wouldn’t be the smartest way to go.

After all, he is still the No. 4 threat in the passing game behind D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and Christian McCaffrey when healthy.

One could argue that his lofty 2020 numbers came as a result of the All-Pro running back turning out in just three games, which only heightens just how precarious this situation is for the organization.

Spotrac project Samuel to command an annual salary of $12.4 million on a four-year, $49.96 million deal this offseason. Whether this is the sort of ballpark the former Ohio State standout is aiming towards remains to be seen but it’s surely going to be too rich for Carolina’s blood at this juncture.

Had the cap gone up as was predicted before COVID-19, things might have been different.

But there is even a chance Samuel won’t take an acceptable offer.

The promise of a more important role elsewhere might be enough to tempt the player, who could take his game to new heights with additional responsibility on his shoulders. Samuel’s previous ties to new Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer from their time together with the Buckeyes is obvious. But they won’t be the only team looking to get someone with such a unique skill set on-board.

Decision-day is almost upon us with the Panthers and Samuel. Just way it’s going to go is unclear at this particular stage before free agency officially begins, but the likes of general manager and Scott Fitterer and head coach Matt Rhule will already know what they want to offer and probably if the wideout will accept it.

High stakes, obviously. But nothing Carolina isn’t going to experience plenty of during what is sure to be another eventful preparation period before competitive action begins in 2021.