By Eric Schmidt

The Carolina Panthers announced this evening that they have extended the contract of RB Jonathan Stewart. The terms of the five year extension are a reported deal worth $36.5 million with $22 million guaranteed. The Panthers have now handed out over $40 million in guaranteed money in the last two seasons to running backs. Last season, the Panthers give fellow running back DeAngelo Williams a hefty contract extension.

Given the fact that Williams received such a lucrative contract last season, and the fact that the Panthers acquired RB Mike Tolbert in free agency this year, there was speculation that Stewart was going to be traded this offseason. The Panthers front office claimed that Stewart was not going to be moved and this move signifies that the team was serious in their statement.

In 2011, Stewart rushed for 761 yards and boasted an impressive 5.4 yard per carry average. The Panthers were the third best rushing offense last season, averaging 150 yards per game.

Fantasy implications- The Panthers backfield poses some interesting issues. Williams and Stewart would be clear number one backs if they played on separate teams, but they share duties in Carolina. Factor in QB Cam Newton rushing for 700 yards and Mike Tolbert in the mix, the Panthers could be a frustrating team for fantasy owners this season.

Stewart could be a solid RB @ in standard leagues this season, but his rushing touchdowns will likely come from outside the 10-yard line. Cam Newton and Tolbert will likely get all the goal line carries this season. Newton carried the ball 14 times inside the 5 last year while Tolbert logged 37 carries inside the 5 while a member of the San Diego Chargers in the last two years.

 

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