“Industry experts” tell Person that the recent contract extension signed by Chiefs OLB Justin Houston won’t impact negotiations between Carolina and Kuechly’s representatives.
Person points out that the Panthers have plenty of available cap space to work with, so addressing Kuechly before the season is underway shouldn’t be an issue for them.
Joel Corry of CBS Sports tells Person that Carolina would be wise to lock Kuechly up sooner rather than later, given that the longer they wait, the higher his asking price is likely to be.
“I’d do it now if I’m them,” said Corry. “Because we saw with Justin Houston the longer you wait for a great player, the more it’s going to cost you. So I’d get it done.”
Interestingly enough, Corry suggested that Kuechly’s agent, Tom Condon, could try to use Packers ILB Clay Matthews as a comparable deal for his client.
Matthews secured a five-year, $66 million contract with $20.5 guaranteed back in 2013.
Kuechly, 24, already has a Defensive Player of the Year award and is clearly in the discussion for being the best inside linebacker in the league.
He sis entering the final year of his four-year, $12.58 million rookie contract and stands to make a base salary of $2,105,265 for the 2015 season.
The Panthers elected to pick up his fifth-year option, which will run them $11.1 million fully guaranteed for the 2016 season, so they still have time to address his contract before he’s in position to test the open market.
In 2014, Kuechly recorded 153 tackles, three sacks, one interception, a forced fumble, a recovery and 11 pass defenses for the Panthers. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the N0. 1 inside linebacker out of 60 qualifying players.