Stewart, a 2004 Timberline graduate who was in Lacey last month for his annual youth football camp, was in the final year of his contract. The Panthers decided to lock up the 25-year-old running back before he was eligible for free agency at the end of the season.
Ben Dogra, Stewart’s agent, said the deal is worth $36.5 million and could reach $42.5 million if Stewart reaches certain incentives. The contract guarantees $22.5 million, including a $9 million signing bonus.
“We are thrilled to be able to extend Jonathan for five additional years. He is a perfect fit for our organization,” Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said in a release. “He is a playmaker who can make the difference in games.”
Dogra said talks about an extension for Stewart began after last season. They were finalized Saturday, shortly before the Panthers’ exhibition opener against the Houston Texans, in which Stewart caught one pass for 13 yards in brief playing time.
“Talks have been going on for quite a while. We all thought it was best to keep it under the radar,” Dogra said. “Jonathan loves being a Carolina Panther and wanted to explore the possibility he could stay there the rest of his career.”
A first-round draft pick out of the University of Oregon in 2008, Stewart is the second-leading rusher in Panthers history with 3,500 yards and 26 touchdowns in four seasons. He holds the team record for rushing yards in a game with 206 against the New York Giants on Dec. 27, 2009.