Did Cam Newton get grossly underpaid for his $7.5 million, 1-year deal with the New England Patriots?


Fact Box

  • Cam Newton has the opportunity to become the heir apparent to Tom Brady, reportedly agreeing to a one-year deal with the New England Patriots Sunday. Newton will eventually have to compete with Jarrett Stidham for the job, but the incentive-laden deal worth a maximum of $7.5 million demonstrates he's in line for the starting job. 
  • Newton presumably comes with a high chance of future injury, making the prospect of future production uncertain. He’s had a series of surgeries over the past few years, the most recent of which was an operation on his foot in December for a Lisfranc injury. The injury uncertainty, coupled with reports that teams were unable to work him out because of COVID-19, may explain why New England was able to sign him to a league minimum contract.
  • Since 2011, Newton leads the NFL with 13 touchdowns on 242 zone-read rush attempts, the highest number of attempts among quarterbacks in that span.
  • Richard Sherman, the San Francisco 49ers star tweeted immediately following news of the signing. 'Just ridiculous. A transcendent talent, and less talented QBs are getting [$15 million - $16 million] a year. Disgusting.”
  • NFL’s highest paid quarterbacks earn between $30 million to $35 million a year. Russell Wilson’s salary is $35 million, Ben Roethlisberger’s is $34 million, and Jared Goff’s is $33.5 million.

Jon (Yes)

The New England Patriots have been an AFC powerhouse ever since Tom Brady took the reins. With Brady moving on to the Buccaneers, the question became: who would be in the driver seat? After the recent announcement that the Patriots have signed Cam Newton to a one-year $7.5 million contract, it’s clear the Patriots have scored elite talent for a modest price. According to NFL Network, Newton's one-year contract with the Patriots is 'a bare minimum deal'. Given this fact, back-up quarterbacks have earned far more with security at their position most notably Chase Daniels contract of $13 million over three years.

Newton hasn’t played the majority of his career at the caliber of a back-up quarterback. There are very few NFL quarterbacks that receive contracts less than Cam Newton that have also earned an NFL MVP and 3 Pro-Bowl selections. Newton prior to his injury last season has played consistently in the quarterback role and offers leadership and postseason experience. His MVP season in 2015 is touted as one of the best of the Carolina Panthers franchise and was the best start by an NFC team since the NFL-AFL merger.

For those who may argue that it’s past Newton’s prime and his ankle and shoulder injuries are a sign of that, there are countless quarterbacks past their prime with contracts triple the size of Newton’s. Matthew Stafford enters the upcoming season with a contract of $27 million guaranteed this season alone while securing less Pro-Bowl Selections and winning seasons. While this doesn’t seek to detract from Stafford’s successful career, it further illustrates the discrepancy in Newton’s contract and the talent that he brings to the Patriots.

Bill (No)

Patriots fans are abuzz with the news of a replacement for their dearly departed Hall of Fame-bound quarterback, Tom Brady. Cam Newton has signed a one year contract worth up to $7.5 million. To those wondering whether the Patriots grossly underpaid for their new QB, the answer is no.  

Here are a few reasons why the deal struck between the Patriots and Cam Newton is a fair one: Cam is coming off a season-ending injury that forced him to miss the last 14 games in 2019. The Panthers released Cam on March 24th, and he sat unsigned for over three months until the Patriots came calling. Finally, Cam has never proven himself able to win big games.

A quarterback’s stock-in-trade is his ability to move the ball down the field – either by throwing to a receiver, handing the ball off to a back, or running for yardage himself. Since January 2019, Cam has had injuries to his throwing arm and ankle. By signing Newton, the Patriots are betting on the QB’s ability to recover and be productive. The fact that Cam was released in March and sat unsigned for over three months, speaks to a small market for his services, reducing his ability to sign a lucrative deal. Patriots fans are used to a QB who can win big games – Cam has a lackluster record of 3-4 in playoff games (including a dismal performance in his only Super Bowl appearance). The Patriots took a calculated risk by signing Cam Newton, but the contract represents fair value, not a gross underpayment.

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