When a former first-overall pick and NFL MVP hits free agency, he’s usually able to command top dollar. Cam Newton, however, had a different experience. During the 2020 offseason, the quarterback struggled to find a new job; he eventually landed with the New England Patriots, taking pennies on the dollar to prove his worth.
That move, however, seems to have already paid off. Based on his first two weeks with the Patriots, at least one NFL analyst believes that Cam Newton can earn a $25 million payday come 2021.
Cam Newton signed a cut-rate contract with the New England Patriots
During the 2020 NFL offseason, the league’s quarterback carousel was spinning at full speed. While the likes of Tom Brady and Philip Rivers were able to cash in on their free-agent status, Cam Newton had a different experience.
After the Carolina Panthers replaced Ron Rivera with Matt Rhule, the club looked to trade Newton, but couldn’t find any takers; faced with no other options, they ultimately released their former franchise quarterback. Based on that timing—most teams in the quarterback market had already made their decision—and his injury history, Cam struggled to find a job.
In July, however, everything changed. Newton signed a one-year contract with the New England Patriots. The quarterback, however, didn’t score a massive payday.
Newton’s base salary only clocks in at $1.05 million; a little more than half of that sum is guaranteed. The contract does carry numerous incentives, though, with Cam’s potential earnings climbing as high as $7.5 million. While that number is a bit more respectable, it’s still an incredible bargain. Not only is Cam a former NFL MVP, but he’s a starting quarterback earning less than some backups.
‘Easily’ a $25 million man
During the 2020 NFL offseason, Cam Newton wasn’t working from a position of strength and simply couldn’t demand top dollar. When his one-year deal with the Patriots expires, though, things will be quite different.
During his first two starts in Foxborough, Newton has a bit more looked like the Cam of old, running and throwing the ball with equal ease. While he’ll have to stay healthy over the course of a full 16-week season, the quarterback could cash in on his upcoming contract.
“Well, I think you’d have to do a contract that protects the club for injury and also gives him the flexibility to get the guarantees that he wants,” Mike Lombardi explained on WEEI. When asked if Cam was a $25 million-per-year quarterback, Lombardi simply responded, “Oh, easily. There’s no doubt.”
Christian Fuaria then followed up, asking Lombardi if Newton was a $25 million quarterback for the Patriots.
“It’s called the cost of doing business,” Lombardi continued. “You’re not going to get guys to take a discounted deal at that number. Look, Jared Goff’s making $33 million. You’re going to get Cam Newton for $8 million less than Jared Goff? I wouldn’t trade Cam Newton for Jared Goff.”
While there’s still a long way to go, Cam Newton is proving his worth
It goes without saying that two games aren’t much of a sample size; there’s no way, for example, that Cam Newton will command $25 million per season if he suffers a freak injury before the end of the season. During his early time with the Patriots, though, the quarterback is reminding everyone of just how valuable he can be.
When he’s at his best, the Patriots quarterback is an incredible talent; his combination of size, strength, and mobility simply allow him to do things that other signal-callers cant’. That talent, in a vacuum, should command a premium on the open market.
Over the past few years, Cam’s biggest issues have been injuries; he’s missed time and, when he’s taken the field, hasn’t looked like himself. While ‘proving’ that he can stay healthy is a loaded notion—there’s a decent amount of luck involved, and a player can do everything right before getting hurt in a freak incident—NFL front offices presumably want to see that Newton can go 16 games without spending any time on the sidelines.
Due to a perfect storm of circumstances, the New England Patriots were able to ink Cam Newton to a one-year contract at a bargain price. If things keep going at their current rate, though, the quarterback’s bottom line will look a bit better come 2021.