Last year, first overall draft pick Sam Bradford got a six-year, $78 million contract with $50 million guaranteed. This year, first overall draft pick Cam Newton is getting a whole lot less.
Newton and the Carolina Panthers have agreed to a four-year, $22 million deal, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. The contract is fully guaranteed, but still: The difference between the old rookie pay scale and the new rookie pay scale means a difference of tens of millions of dollars to Newton’s bottom line.
And although Newton can’t be happy about it, that’s a good thing: The new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and the owners divvies up the salaries differently so that the veterans who have proven themselves get a bigger slice of the pie than the unproven rookies. That’s completely fair.
If Newton turns out to be the great player the Panthers hope he is, his next contract will be enormous, and he’ll have earned every penny of that.
If Newton turns out to be a bust, he’ll still have earned enough money that if he’s smart about it, it will last him several lifetimes. But he won’t be nearly as expensive as busts of the recent past have been. That’s good for the Panthers and good for the NFL.