As quarterback after quarterback after quarterback get new contracts, and as the cluster at the top of the market gets larger and larger and larger, the deal applicable to 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton gets more and more and more glaring.
Newton has two years left on a contract that averaged $20.76 millon per year in new money at signing. He got the deal in June 2015, a year before a then-stagnant quarterback market began to spike via deals signed by Colts quarterback Andrew Luck ($24.6 million), Raiders quarterback Derek Carr ($25 million), Lions quarterback Matt Stafford ($27 million), 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo ($27.5 million), Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins ($28 million), Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan ($30 million), Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz ($32 million), Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers ($33.5 million), Rams quarterback Jared Goff ($33.5 million), Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger ($34 million), and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson ($35 million). Possibly by the weekend, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott also will land in that $30 million to $35 million per year range.
Newton, who remains one of the very best quarterbacks in the league, has been left in the dust. To his credit, he has never said a word about the extent to which he’s underpaid. But he is. Although it’s technically possible that a new deal will be announced before Sunday, the more likely scenario features the Panthers making a decision about Newton’s future after the season, especially since he’s recovering from his latest shoulder surgery.
The problem for Cam is that he’ll have to carry the injury risk for a full season. Given his injury history, there’s a chance that, by next year, the Panthers may want to let things play out in 2020 before making a long-term decision about a quarterback who, having just turned 30, should have plenty of good years left.
At some point, it will be appropriate for Cam to ask the fairly simple and direct question of what the team plans to do about his deal. Once Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes shatters the $40 million per year barrier, Newton’s contract will be at roughly half that amount.