NFL AM: Panthers Forced To Pay Cam


Panthers, Newton close to extension

Meanwhile in Carolina, contract extension talks between the Panthers and Cam Newton are apparently heating up.

Newton is heading into the final year of his rookie contract, but Charlotte radio station ESPN 730 says he is about to ink an extension that would keep him in town until 2020. The deal will reportedly pay Newton between $20-21 million per year. Newton’s representatives are said to want 40-50 percent of the new contract to be guaranteed money.

A couple of stats in the “pro-Cam” department: his 33 rushing touchdowns are the most ever by a quarterback in the first four years of his career, and his 115 combined rushing and passing touchdowns are behind only Dan Marino and Peyton Manning in the same timeframe to start a career.

Newton has led the Panthers to two playoff appearances. He has thrown 82 touchdown passes against 54 interceptions and 15 fumbles.

Chargers won’t extend Weddle

San Diegans and Eric Weddle both know they will be there for the Chargers in 2015. After that, it becomes anyone’s guess.

As the team’s potential move to Los Angeles plays in the background, the Chargers announced Monday that they would not pursue contract extension talks with their veteran 30-year-old safety. His deal is up after the 2015 season.

“He’ll be excited about playing this year and then hit free agency,” agent David Cantner told U-T San Diego. “We’re disappointed and will continue to be disappointed, but Eric will go all-out this season.”

Weddle skipped San Diego’s voluntary workouts in hopes of getting an extension, but that went nowhere.

The move comes counter to what Chargers GM Tom Telesco said in a pre-draft press conference when speaking about Weddle, quarterback Philip Rivers and defensive tackle Corey Liuget.

“(Eric’s) a major part of our football team,” Telesco said in April. “He’s an excellent football player, and sure, our future would have him involved, there’s no doubt. We’re a better football team with him.”

Weddle is owed $7.5 million next year and will be the fourth-best paid safety in the NFL. He has been named first or second team All-Pro each of the last five seasons.


UAB reinstates football program

The Alabama-Birmingham football program has received the equivalent of the midnight call from the governor. Or maybe it is more apt to compare them to a horror movie character that just can’t be killed off.

On Monday, university president Ray Watts reversed course on his controversial December decision to kill the program.

“The biggest single difference is we now have tangible commitments for additional support that we have never had before,” Watts told reporters. “Without that additional support, we could not have maintained a balanced budget moving forward.”

Some $27 million has been raised to revive the program. But it will still be awhile before the Blazers play another down.

UAB will remain shelved for the 2015 season with the goal being a return in 2016. Even that may be a challenge – most eligible players from last year’s team transferred elsewhere to play this fall. Fortunately the program won’t start completely from scratch — head coach Bill Clark passed on taking any other jobs this year due to a belief that this exact scenario would play out in his favor.

It remains to be seen if UAB will come back as a full Conference USA member in 2016, or if some sort of transition season will be needed before taking on a full league schedule.

The greatest irony of becoming the first major college to drop its program in 20 years is that UAB finds itself in its best financial situation ever as it moves forward.

“It broke our hearts to make that decision, and we’re sorry for any consequences of that,” Watts said. “But we’re excited today that our community and supporters have come together. I can tell you that had we not made that decision, which was based on sound information, that we wouldn’t be where we are today. We’ve never seen this level of support.”

About Alex Hickey

Alex Hickey

Alex Hickey can vividly recall most significant NFL events going back to Walter Payton's final game in 1987, including the ones that didn't make him cry. Since 2008, his full-time job has been covering college football, specifically McNeese State, for the Lake Charles (La.) American Press. Free time is spent informing, amusing or annoying you for Football Insiders.