How much will it cost the Carolina Panthers to re-sign Frankie Luvu?

It's time for the Carolina Panthers to pay up...

Frankie Luvu
Frankie Luvu / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

How much will the Carolina Panthers need to shell out in their quest to keep pending free-agent linebacker Frankie Luvu around?

There seems to be a level of urgency surrounding the need to extend Frankie Luvu. Treating this as a high priority would be wise considering how influential the linebacker's become over the last two years. Anything less would send out the wrong message as general manager Dan Morgan looks to re-establish a strong culture across the organization.

Luvu is the beating heart of Carolina's defense. He's a genuine three-down, sideline-to-sideline presence at the defensive second level. The energy he brings on and off the field would be immensely difficult to replace.

The Panthers got more than they bargained for with Luvu. After shining as a rotational piece and special teams ace in 2021, he was rewarded with a two-year, $9 million extension with a $3 million signing bonus and $4.5 million guaranteed. This was a rare piece of shrewd business by the previous front office regime.

After being elevated into a starting role, Luvu excelled further. Throughout the contract's duration, he's notched 236 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 29 tackles for loss, 20 quarterback hits, three forced fumbles, nine passes defended, and 26 pressures. His 80.0 grade from Pro Football Focus in 2023 was the second-best of his professional career.

Carolina Panthers must give Frankie Luvu a large pay increase

Now, it's time to pay.

Luvu is in a strong position when it's time for his representatives to start negotiating a new deal. The Panthers have gotten a relative bargain based on his production. He's earned a huge salary increase. Working this out effectively is critical to maintaining defensive continuity after Ejiro Evero and his staff opted to stick around.

This is a sentiment echoed by Morgan. He wants Luvu to be around in 2024 and beyond. The general manager also acknowledged he's one of the few with the sort of dog mentality he's looking for based on comments via Sports Illustrated.

"We have all intentions on re-signing Frankie. We love Frankie. He embodies what a Panther is. He's tough. He's got that dog mentality that we've talked about. Nothing's guaranteed in this league, but we are going to try to extend him."

Dan Morgan via Sports Illustrated

Just how much it'll cost to re-sign Luvu is the big question. Looking at the whopping salary-cap hike and how others in the same position are being paid around the league, it wouldn't be a shock to see eight figures per year. If the Panthers don't want to go that high, one suspects there would be more than a few teams willing to hand him exactly that on the open market.

According to Spotrac, Luvu's projected market value stands at $11.2 million per season on a four-year, $45 million deal. That seems more than fair. It would make things financially tight for the Panthers - especially if Brian Burns is franchise-tagged as expected - but that's why Brandt Tilis is here. To make everything work money-wise to the team's benefit.

There is much more to contracts than just initial figures. How the money is structured annually. The guaranteed cash attached is another big stumbling block. The duration of the deal and what signing bonus emerges. These are all key factors before terms are agreed upon.

It won't be much longer before the legal tampering period begins. For Morgan's sake, this contract matter must come to a successful resolution.