We already knew Cam Newton’s contract with the Patriots would be a shockingly cheap deal for the team. We also knew that, in the mind of the 31-year-old quarterback, the one-year contract “is not about money. … It’s about respect.”
Fair enough. But we eventually learned complete details of the deal that will pay Newton no less than $550,000 and no more than $7.5 million after he collected almost $17 million from the Panthers last season before he was released in March. Newton could be named first-team All-Pro in 2020 — in other words, the best quarterback in the NFL — and still not earn the maximum amount of money his contract offers.
ESPN’s Field Yates in early July shared the complete breakdown of the $6 million-plus worth of bonuses and incentives built into Newton’s contract. Included is an All-Pro bonus of $500,000. (The report did not specify whether Newton needs to be voted first-team All-Pro by The Associated Press specifically, rather than AP second-team All-Pro or Sporting News All-Pro.)
Newton has been voted first-team All-Pro once in his career, in 2015, when he also was voted NFL MVP and earned one of his three career Pro Bowl nods. With the Patriots, Newton also would get a bonus of $500,000 for making the Pro Bowl in 2020.
Below is the breakdown of the bonuses and incentives Newton has a chance to hit with his one-year contract in New England.
Per-game roster bonuses: $43,750 per game (up to $700,000)
Playing time incentives:
Pro Bowl bonus: $500,000
All-Pro bonus: $500,000
Playoff wins: $250,000 per win (if he plays 50 percent of game)
Newton’s base salary in 2020 is $1.05 million, which is the minimum for a player who has been in the NFL seven years or longer, but he was guaranteed just $550,000 at signing.
“The Patriots are shrewd when it comes out handing low-risk, high-reward contracts to fallen big-name players,” SN’s Vinnie Iyer wrote last week. “Given Newton was a free agent for nearly 100 days since his release from the Panthers, the Patriots likely sensed they were the only team willing to offer Newton a deal to stay in the NFL in 2020, allowing them to set his market.
“With Newton’s durability issues, there was even more reason, in Patriots’ minds, to justify the cheapness.”
Newton earned a total of $121.934 million from the Panthers in nine seasons with Carolina, which selected him with the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He has not played a season for less than $15 million since the fourth year of his rookie contract in 2014, right before he signed a five-year extension with the Panthers and immediately led them to the Super Bowl.
Even if Newton were to somehow repeat the brilliance of that MVP season with the Patriots this year, he would earn less than a third of the $24 million he was paid in 2015.
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