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Newton, Panthers close to long-term deal

Negotiations between the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton intensified over the weekend and the two sides are close to finalizing a contract extension that would keep the franchise quarterback with the Panthers through the 2020 season, two league sources told the Observer on Monday.

A deal that could average upwards of $20 million could be done as early as Monday, one of the sources said.

Charlotte sports radio station ESPN730, which is owned by former Panthers general manager Marty Hurney, first reported the news of Newton’s imminent contract extension.

Newton, the No. 1 overall pick in 2011, is scheduled to make $14.67 million this season after the Panthers picked up their club option for his fifth year.

Bus Cook, who along with Tony Paige and Chitta Mallik represent Newton, declined comment when reached by phone Monday.

“I just can’t say anything,” Cook said.

A Panthers spokesman said the team wouldn’t have any comment until a deal is signed.

Newton, who set an NFL rookie passing record in 2011, made the Pro Bowl in two of his first three seasons and guided the Panthers to the first back-to-back playoff appearances in their history.

He won his first playoff game in January when the Panthers beat Arizona 27-16 in a wild-card game before falling to Seattle in the divisional round.

Despite battling injuries that sidelined him for two games in 2014, Newton became the only player in NFL history to start his career with four consecutive seasons with at least 3,000 passing yards and 500 rushing yards.

It has been an eventful 12 months for Newton.

He underwent offseason ankle surgery last March, and cracked a rib during the preseason that kept him out of the regular-season opener at Tampa Bay. Newton injured his back in a December wreck that sent him to the hospital overnight and totaled his pickup truck.