Can the Knights win a premiership within the next four years with Kalyn Ponga working his magic?
That is certainly the hope of club officials and desperate Newcastle fans craving success. But can they win a premiership with their brilliant young fullback earning $1.5 million a season during that period? The simple answer is not likely and we'll tell you why. But first some background.
Earlier this week, it was reported Ponga's manager Wade Rushton had met with the club a few weeks ago to discuss an upgraded contract extension.
Rushton did not comment on specifics but it was speculated he is chasing a new four year deal worth $6 million or $1.5 million a season for 2020-23.
It would make Ponga the highest paid player in the game, which down the track, he no doubt will be. While we can appreciate that managers can ask for whatever they want at the negotiation table, it doesn't mean a club will agree to pay it.
In the case of the Knights, they already have Ponga signed until the end of 2021. Currently, he will earn around $1.5 million over the course of those two years. So what his manager is reportedly asking the club to do is to double his existing wage for the next two years - so $3 million instead of $1.5 million - out of goodwill.
In return for doing so, Ponga would agree to extend his deal at the club for two years beyond his existing contract on the same money again.The problem for the Knights is simple mathematics suggests it can't happen.
For starters, their salary cap is already so tight for next year, the club is looking to off-load $450,000 prop Herman Ese'ese to create space to bring in a much-needed backrower and re-sign the likes of Hymel Hunt and Shaun Kenny-Dowall. Where will the extra $750,000 come from to bump up Ponga's 2020 contract to $1.5 million?
But what about the bigger picture. The salary cap rises to $9.8 million in 2020. By giving Ponga $1.5 million or roughly 15 percent of the cap and Mitchell Pearce [$950,000] and David Klemmer [$850,000] roughly 18 percent, the Knights would be allocating a third of their salary cap to just three players.
That leaves 27 players to share $6.5 million which averages out at $240,000 per player. With several players in the current squad earning more than $400,000 a season, you are looking at plenty of cheapies in your 30-man squad to balance the books.
How many quality players will need to be unloaded and what will that do to depth when trying to win a premiership? Third party deals that fall outside the cap are an obvious way around the problem but in a smaller market like Newcastle, they have never been easy to find.
At least worried fans can take comfort in what the star fullback's father Andre told us back in June. "We are very comfortable with where it's at with KP and the club," he said.
"It's not about money - it never has been. He is happy, the girls [mum Adine and sister Kayley] are happy, I'm happy. There is no hurry to do anything. He still has another two years to go after this season."