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Panthers expect to use option on Newton

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Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said Tuesday the team is expected to exercise its fifth-year option on quarterback Cam Newton, keeping him in Carolina at least two more seasons.

"Yes," Gettleman said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla. "Yes, that's a fair statement."

Carolina has until May 3 to inform Newton and his representation it will use the fifth-year option that was built into the new collective bargaining agreement.

Newton is recovering from ankle surgery but is expected to be ready for training camp. He is expected to miss four months of offseason work.

Under the collective bargaining agreement, Newton will be entitled to the average of the league's 10 highest-paid quarterbacks in 2015. Estimates for that are around $13.7 million, but it could change, according to ESPN.com.

The Panthers likely won't get to the fifth year of Newton's contract, as they seek to sign the first pick of the 2011 draft to a long-term deal.

Gettleman reaffirmed Tuesday that the surgery went well and there are no concerns with Newton physically.

The fifth-year option buys Carolina time to get a new deal done without risk of Newton becoming a free agent after next season.

"This is the first time this has all happened," Gettleman said of the fifth-year option. "As you plan, as you think about it, as you make decisions, the thing you have to remember is, I know that every decision I make, there's a message being sent to the locker room. And that's impactful."

Newton had an ankle injury in college and reportedly nicked his ankle in a Week 16 victory against the New Orleans Saints, but played in the regular-season finale at Atlanta and in the NFC divisional playoff loss against San Francisco without a noticeable issue.

The decision was made to go ahead with the operation after the ankle failed to heal with rest after the end of the season.

The 24-year-old Newton completed his third year with the Panthers in 2013, passing for 3,379 yards and 24 touchdowns with 13 interceptions in 16 regular-season starts. He added 585 yards rushing and six touchdowns on the ground in leading Carolina to the playoffs.
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