CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – Cam Newton said his focus is on getting back on the football field, not a new contract.
The Panthers quarterback said Wednesday he’s happy for San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick, who recently signed a six-year, $126 million contract. He even sent a congratulatory text message to Kaepernick, who beat Newton and the Panthers in the NFC divisional playoffs 23-10 in January.
The Panthers have talked about a long-term contract for Newton but no deal has been completed.
“For me, that’s the last thing that’s on my mind,” Newton said.
Newton didn’t practice Wednesday as he continues to rehab his left ankle following surgery in March, but spoke to the media inside the stadium afterward. He said he wants to participate in next week’s three-day minicamp, but isn’t sure if he’ll be ready.
Newton and Kaepernick are linked in many respects because they came out of college the same year.
Newton was selected first overall in the NFL Draft in 2011, but only this past year did he finally get the Panthers to the playoffs. Kaepernick was selected 35 picks behind Newton but has helped the 49ers reach the NFC Championship Game three straight seasons.
“Two different people, two different organizations,” Newton said. “I wish Colin the best. . . . I reached out and told him he deserved it. To do what he has done up to this point, he deserves to get paid.”
Newton can make an argument he does too based on three impressive statistical seasons.
He has started every game for the Panthers since coming into the league and thrown for 11,299 yards with 64 touchdown passes and 42 interceptions. He’s also run for 2,032 yards and 28 TDs.
But while general manager Dave Gettleman said Newton has proven to him that he’s a franchise quarterback, the salary cap strapped Panthers haven’t signed the former Heisman Trophy winner to a long-term deal.
The Panthers did pick up the option on the fifth year of Newton’s rookie contract, which means Newton’s salary will jump from $3.3 million this year to $14.6 million in 2015.
Newton has been working on an underwater treadmill in recent weeks, receiving ice and stem treatments for his left ankle. He’s also been throwing passes on the side during six of the team’s last nine OTA practices.
He said he’s still experiences some pain in his ankle that reminds him he’s not quite 100 percent. The team’s three-day minicamp begins Tuesday.
“Physically I’m coming along fine and I’m on page right where I expected to be, but mentally I’m bored,” Newton said.
Newton said he’s spent the last seven weeks poring over game film from last year and practice film from OTAs.