When seeing the initial details regarding Cam Newton‘s bargain-basement contract with the Patriots, some wondered whether the Patriots agreed not to apply the franchise tag in 2021 in order to get him to agree to a compensation package with a maximum upside of $7.5 million. They didn’t.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, the one-year deal does not limit the ability of the Patriots to tag Newton in 2021.
The contract, per La Canfora, pays $550,000 in fully-guaranteed money. That’s little more than half of Newton’s $1.05 million base salary. Per Albert Breer of SI.com, Newton can earn another $700,000 in per-game roster bonuses (i.e., $43,750 for each regular-season game that he’s on the active roster). The remaining $5.75 million comes in the form of to-date unspecified incentives.
So, basically, no matter how well Newton plays this year or how much the Patriots achieve, the maximum payment to Cam will be $7.5 million, with the ability to squat on his rights in 2021 via the franchise or transition tag. Even if he’s the regular-season MVP and the Super Bowl MVP, he gets $7.5 million.
Which makes it an excellent deal for the Patriots and not a very good deal for Newton. But here’s the reality. Newton was willing to do the deal because his only other option at this point was to wait for someone to get injured, and to hope that the team with the injured starter would choose Newton over the “next man up.”
Here’s the other reality: Newton was available in late June in part because no one knew that the Patriots were interested in Newton. If anyone did, Newton likely would have been signed by someone else, for more money than he’s getting in New England.