Cam Newton: I won't hold out


Cam Newton doesn't plan to pressure the Carolina Panthers into a long-term contract.

Newton is eligible for an extension of his original four-year deal under the collective bargaining agreement. The Panthers also have the option of picking up a fifth-year option on the quarterback's current contract.

Although Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman and coach Ron Rivera said Newton was their franchise quarterback after a 12-4 season, there has been no indication of movement on either option.

Newton said Monday on the "Dan Patrick Show" that he had no plans to hold out in an attempt to get a new deal. The 2010 Heisman Trophy winner said his main focus was on becoming a better player and helping the Panthers get to the Super Bowl.

" Russell Wilson put a lot of pressure on young quarterbacks," Newton said of the Seattle quarterback, who in his second season led the Seahawks to a Super Bowl title. "But needless to say, we don't have that fallback answer no more. We're no longer young quarterbacks.

"Going into my fourth year, I want to make that leap, make that stride to be a marquee quarterback in this league."

Newton's 2014 cap number of $7,008,113 ranks 19th among NFL quarterbacks. Although he was selected to the Pro Bowl for the second time in three years, he is not close to the average pay ($17.4 million) of the top 10 quarterbacks.

The top overall draft pick in 2011, Newton ranks fifth on the Panthers in 2014 salary, behind defensive end Charles Johnson ($16,420,000), center Ryan Kalil ($10,400,000), tight end Greg Olsen ($7,800,000) and safety Charles Godfrey ($7,100,000).

But Newton was emphatic he would not threaten a holdout, as Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson has indicated might be an option.

"I think our positions are completely different," Newton said on the radio show. "Being the leader of this team, I don't think that would be a good look for me. Not taking anything away from Patrick -- he's an unbelievable player and an elite corner in the league -- but there's some things cornerbacks can do that quarterbacks can't.

"I'm not worried about contract discussions right now. My main focus is just becoming the better player I can become."

The Panthers aren't in a great position to extend Newton's deal. They have 21 unrestricted free agents, including defensive end Greg Hardy, who is expected to get a hefty salary increase from Carolina or another team after leading the Panthers in sacks with 15 last season.

Carolina could put the franchise tag on Hardy, but a $12 million hit on a team with salary-cap issues might not be feasible.

The Panthers can keep Newton tied up for three more years if necessary without a new deal, should they exercise the fifth-year option and then use the franchise tag for a sixth season.