The NFL quarterbacking headlines belong to Deshaun Watson this weekend thanks to a monstrous contract extension with the Houston Texans. But an itty-bitty deal for a signal-caller that most NFL fans have forgotten — or are trying to forget — deserves some attention because it must be driving Cam Newton nuts.
Deshaun Watson and a tale of two careers
Deshaun Watson’s contract extension with the Houston Texans covers four years and is worth $160 million, ESPN reported over the weekend. Since many NFL contracts are backloaded with money that the players will never see, it’s worth noting that Watson is guaranteed nearly $111 million — a huge number, even by quarterback standards.
Watson has thrown for 9,716 yards and 71 touchdowns in just 38 games over his first three seasons. With a 66.8% completion percentage and just 21 interceptions, his career passing rating is a stellar 101.0.
Contrast Watson’s numbers with those of Cam Newton, who signed with the New England Patriots this summer after the Carolina Panthers released him.
Newton, the overall No. 1 draft pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2011, has thrown for 29,041 yards and 182 touchdowns in eight-plus seasons. (Injuries limited him to two games last fall). The 2015 league MVP has thrown double-digit interceptions in each of his eight full seasons, accounting for a less impressive 86.1 passer rating, but he’s also run for 4,806 yards and 58 touchdowns.
In a head-to-head comparison, Watson fares better than Newton. But he still has a way to go to match him for longevity in a violent sport.
Cam Newton’s contract isn’t very good
Cam Newton made $121 million in his nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers, who decided to go in a different direction after last season. With 124 career starts, Newton wasn’t looking for a job as a backup. But with only 32 starting jobs in the league, that didn’t leave him with many options.
Newton and the New England Patriots, who lost Tom Brady to free agency, agreed to a deal in early July. The numbers were surprisingly low, even for a player coming off a metatarsal injury that ended him 2019 season after just two games.
The Patriots signed Newton to a one-year contract for $1.75 million, with just $550,000 guaranteed, according to Spotrac.com. After factoring in potential bonus money pegged primarily to playing time, Newton could easily make around $4 million. Other bonus money for reaching the playoffs might be unattainable because so many teammates opted out due to the pandemic.
The real outrage for Cam Newton is over Nathan Peterman
Nathan Peterman, a fifth-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills in 2017, posted one of the worst performances ever by a quarterback when he threw five interceptions in one half during a 54-24 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers as a rookie. Appearing in parts of four games the following season, he threw seven more picks in just 81 attempts.
Peterman’s career numbers: 68-for-130, 548 yards, three touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. His 32.5 passer rating is one-third of what is regarded as very good.
So, what just happened?
According to ESPN, the quarterback has agreed to rework his contract with the Las Vegas Raiders. His previously non-guaranteed $2.133 million becomes a guaranteed $1 million.
The bottom line: One of the worst NFL quarterbacks ever is getting almost twice as much guaranteed money as Cam Newton, a former league MVP. If Newton isn’t upset by that, he should be.