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Panthers mailbag: Cam Newton's contract and the O-line

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It's a busy sports weekend in Charlotte between the Wells Fargo Championship, the Sprint All-Star race and a big swim meet in which Olympic legend Mike Phelps is competing.

That doesn’t mean you don’t have questions about the Carolina Panthers, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

@DNewtonESPN: The focus now is getting quarterback Cam Newton signed to a long-term deal. I'm not so worried about restructuring the deal of defensive end Charles Johnson, set to count $20,020,000 under the salary cap this season. He didn't restructure the past two seasons until September. I'm also not worried about Carolina getting a new deal for linebacker Thomas Davis. It will happen. Davis wants to retire at Carolina and management wants him to retire here. Newton's deal will be more complicated. I doubt we'll see anything happen until Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson completes his new deal to set the market. Newton, like Wilson, will want a lot of upfront money. Though Newton has made it clear he wants to be at Carolina long term, I can't imagine he or the Panthers would want to go into the 2015 season without a deal.

@DNewtonESPN: You're talking two different things here. Because of the way the Panthers finished last season the offensive line as a whole didn't need to be addressed. From left guard (Andrew Norwell) to right tackle (Mike Remmers) the line performed well down the stretch. Right guard Trai Turner will be a long-term fixture in the league. Center Ryan Kalil is a Pro Bowl player. So the line, per se, didn't have to be overhauled. Left tackle did. You're right to be skeptical about that. Even coach Ron Rivera said Michael Oher at left tackle is "very key" to what Carolina wants to do offensively. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Jonathan Martin get a shot at left tackle to provide competition. Otherwise, the line should be OK. I like the addition of fourth-round draft pick Daryl Williams. It wouldn't surprise me to see him beat out Remmers. A healthy Amini Silatolu is a plus at guard.

@DNewtonESPN: Since we're fresh off the target, I'll start with left tackle. A lot is riding on Michael Oher's shoulders. After that I'll go with strong safety. Nothing against Roman Harper, but he's not a long-term fix and I don't see a strong replacement if he were to be injured. Third would be the cornerback spot opposite Josh Norman. If 34-year-old Charles Tillman has lost a step or suffers another injury as has happened the past two seasons the Panthers are back to Bene' Benwikere there. Benwikere isn't bad, but he's better at the nickel spot. Undrafted rookie Garry Peters out of Clemson could be a solution. Many thought he should have been drafted. But he's unproven, so you can't count on him.

@DNewtonESPN: Putting me on the spot with all this talk about the offensive line. I don't see much changing inside with Kalil at center, Turner at right guard and Norwell at left guard. I can't see anybody beating out Oher at left tackle. The most competition will be at right tackle where, as mentioned above, I wouldn't be surprised if Williams beats out Remmers for the job.