After spending months on the free-agent market, Cam Newton finally found a new NFL home courtesy of the New England Patriots. Of course, in typical Bill Belichick fashion, he signed the former league MVP to a bargain contract that carries a maximum value of just $7.5 million.
Despite his underwhelming salary, Newton refuses to let money get in the way of his career resurrection tour. In fact, the Patriots QB just sent a stern message about his contract and the possibility of a long-term future in Foxborough.
Cam Newton’s Patriots contract
Just five years ago, Cam Newton won the NFL MVP award. Yet, shoulder and foot injuries left the Carolina Panthers little choice but to move on from the former No. 1 overall pick. Despite an impressive resume, Newton failed to find a new NFL home quickly. In fact, he waited nearly three months until Bill Belichick finally ended his unemployment experience.
Only nobody could have predicted the ridiculously cheap deal Newton signed. After earning more than $120 million as one of the NFL’s biggest stars, the 31-year-old settled for a one-year, incentive-laden contract that pays him just $1.05 million in base salary.
Newton can make up to $7.5 million this season by hitting specific playing incentives. ESPN’s Field Yates gave a breakdown of those incentives via Twitter. According to Yates, Newton can make up to $700,000 in per-game roster bonuses. The veteran quarterback also has bonuses based on the percentage of snaps he plays in 2020, which makes sense given Newton’s injury history.
In addition, the 2015 Offensive Player of the Year can earn a $500,000 bonus by earning a Pro Bowl selection, and another $500,000 for making an All-Pro team. Plus, the Patriots will pay Newton $250,000 per playoff win as long as he plays at least 50% of the snaps.
Newton sends stern message about his contract
Cam Newton knows he has a financial ceiling of just $7.5 million in 2020. That mark looks laughable compared to what other free-agent quarterbacks signed for. The Cowboys handed Andy Dalton $3 million guaranteed to be Dak Prescott’s backup. Despite losing his job to Ryan Tannehill last season, Marcus Mariota can make nearly $38 million if he hits all of his incentives with the Las Vegas Raiders. The New Orleans Saints signed Taysom Hill to a two-year, $21 million deal even though he has never thrown a touchdown pass.
Newton already looked vastly underpaid before playing his first official snap as a Patriot. And based on his first two weeks of playing in Josh McDaniels’ offense, he has every right to be unhappy about his underwhelming contract. Yet, that does not seem to be the case based on the stern message Newton sent during an appearance on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show.”
“If I do what I’m supposed to do, as I’m expected to, that will not be a topic of discussion moving forward,” he explained. “Money at this particular point in my career is not important. Let’s be honest: I’ve made money, but for everything that I play this game for, I haven’t received yet. And that’s why I’m playing. So it’s not about money; it’s about respect.”
The Patriots’ new quarterback also referenced a lesson his father taught him when discussing his financial future.
“I do believe this: A wise man once said — and that wise man is my father — all blessings don’t come in financial means,” Newton said. “So for me, if I do what I’m supposed to do, everything else will take care of itself.”
Does the former NFL MVP have a long-term future in New England?
Bill Belichick may have landed Cam Newton on a cheap contract, but the savvy general manager will have to pay much more to retain his new quarterback. Assuming Newton makes it through the season without suffering a serious injury, he should position himself for a lucrative long-term deal in the spring.
But will New England give it to him?
On one hand, the long-term pairing of Belichick and Newton could give NFL teams nightmares. The architect of the greatest dynasty in professional sports has never had a quarterback with Newton’s skill set. New England could continue to transform its offense and build around the dynamic dual-threat star and remain a top Super Bowl contender for years to come.
On the other hand, a long-term deal would cost the Patriots a large chunk of their salary cap. Would Belichick be willing to sacrifice financial flexibility to keep Newton around? Or does Jarrett Stidham (who’s still on a cheap rookie contract) still have a chance to become the team’s starting quarterback?
We will find out that answer in the spring.
But for now, Cam Newton won’t let money distract him from ensuring the Patriots remain atop the AFC East.