The 24 year old offensive guard enters the final year of his contract with two Pro Bowl seasons under his belt, and he is on the verge of his first big payday. Turner will be one of the top unrestricted free agents at his position in 2018, and at his age Turner is an essential piece the Panthers need to lock down before 2018.
The issue is he won’t come cheap. As I already pointed out the Panthers at this time look to be heading towards 2018 with a rough estimate of about $24 million in cap space at this time. They could look to create more by extensions with vets, and cutting some players in 2017, and 2018.
Given Turner’s age, and production you can probably expect him to want to be one of the highest paid at the position. With deals that are highlighted in an article by Joe Person in the Observer, just signed this year you can see it will cost the Panthers a nice chunk against the cap when he is re-signed.
Cleveland doubled down at the guard spot, re-signing Joel Bitonio to a five-year, $51.2 million contract.
The Steelers gave David DeCastro a five-year, $50 million deal to stay in Pittsburgh, Kyle Long got four years and $40 million to remain in Chicago and Kansas City kept Laurent Duvernay-Tardif with a five-year, $42.4 million extension.
Reportedly the Panthers, and Turner’s agents have already begun preliminary conversations on a contract extension as reported in the same article below by Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer.
The two sides have had preliminary conversations, according to league sources.
If the Panthers can’t reach a deal with Turner before the 2018 season then he is the most likely to get the Franchise Tag among the Free Agents available. That will be the decision Gettleman will be faced with in 2018 if a deal can’t get done before then.
The 25 year old undrafted free agent offensive guard much like Turner will be entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2017. Also like Turner, Norwell has played well above expectations stepping in to the left side of the line as a rookie, and never relenting his hold on the position.
Norwell will be another top sought after free agent at his position in 2018, and is another essential cog to the Panthers offensive line. Much like finding Star & Kawann in the same draft was both a blessing, and a future detriment to the team. Finding both Norwell, and Turner from the same draft year is exactly the same.
Given the amount of talent developed, and deserving of paydays from the 2013, and 2014 draft years. The Panthers find themselves in a predicament. By using the 5th year option on Star Lotulelei in 2017 they managed to push Star’s contract to the 2018 off-season.
The issue is two of the Panthers young offensive guards are due paydays as well in that off-season. With Turner appearing to be the priority already among the three to get a contract done. There is going to be a decision made that involves letting one if not both major talents walk in 2018.
Gettleman will need to decide where his priorities are when deciding between Star, and Norwell. While I personally don’t believe they will let both walk.
The financial side of this cannot be ignored. The Panthers realistically don’t have the room to accommodate both Norwell, and Star along with Turner, Olsen, and Davis’s possible deals. Plus the possible use of Shaq’s 5th year option in 2019.
The decision may not even boil down to which they would like to keep more but instead come down to which would come the cheapest between the two.
While there is a slight chance to keep all three players. It would come at the cost of potential cap to use in free agency, possible future contracts for others, and possibly a few players already on the roster with big cap figures.
In the end this will be a tough decision for Gettleman, and one that may leave some parts of the fan base with a sour taste in their mouths by the end of it. Gettleman will need to figure out if he can get one of these two re-signed in 2018, and how that affects contracts past 2018.
If I was to guess today I would lean towards Norwell getting extended before Star. Partly thanks to the drafting of Butler, but also the emphasis they have now started to show on protecting Cam Newton after 2016, and what they did in the 2017 NFL Draft.