Edwards, already contracted until the conclusion of next year, opted for a generous four-year extension. This decision landed him a contract that runs until the conclusion of 2028, with a total valuation estimated around $3.4 million stretched across the four-year term.
This new contract establishes Edwards as having the record for the longest retained spot on the roster. This milestone comes to fruition following an impressive display in the competitions over the past two years, which has seen Edwards’ skills and prowess dramatically elevate. This extension solidly positions him at the club and almost guarantees a career spent solely at the premiership-winning club.
Edwards’ contract now significantly surpasses the length of recently signed contract extensions by Panthers co-captains Nathan Cleary and Isaah Yeo. Interestingly, it also aligns with the contract end-date for Panthers’ coach Ivan Cleary. Brian To’o, Liam Martin and Moses Leota – three other crucial Panthers’ players, have their contracts securely drawn out till at the end of 2027.
The length of Edwards’ extension echoes that of only eight other players within the NRL scene. These include; Patrick Carrigan from Brisbane, Tom Gilbert with the Dolphins, Mitchell Moses and Dylan Brown from Parramatta, Rabbitohs team captain Cameron Murray, Souths prop Tevita Tatola, Sharks’ Nicho Hynes and Titans captain, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui.
Enriching his reputation, Edwards scooped up last year’s Clive Churchill Medal following Penrith’s Grand Final victory against Parramatta. His stellar performance over the past two years on a mere $500,000 contract has had him widely identified as one of the most economical bargains in the competition.
Ensuring this asset wasn’t lost to the market on November 1st, the Panthers swiftly locked down Edwards’ agreement after he demonstrated his disinterest in exploring other team options. The onus now shifts to Jarome Luai, the club’s five-eighth. If not locked down by the Panthers soon, he will slide into the free agent category come November 1st.
Luai, currently grappling with a dislocated shoulder and set on an expected return for the preliminary final in three weeks, is without an agent. His former agent, SFX, was given 90 days’ notice. No contract with a new agent has been finalised, which leaves Luai unable to action any representation until mid-October when the notice period ends. SFX has advised Penrith it will waive the notice period should Luai directly arrange a deal with the Panthers, bypassing the need for manager intervention.
The Panthers are due to initiate a discussion with Luai in the coming weeks to evaluate his interest in remaining with the club. Given Cleary, Yeo and now Edwards have all been locked in on broad-ranging contracts, it seems the club might not be able to offer Luai equivalently competitive remuneration as per open market rates. Yet, the club’s hope lies in Luai’s potential preference to stick with his junior club, remain amongst his closest friends and in a high-performing environment, which might just sway his decision in favour of signing up, avoiding a dip in the market.