On Sunday, the New England Patriots picked up quarterback and former NFL MVP Cam Newton.
The news broke shortly after the NFL announced that it would fine the Patriots $1.1 million and take away their third-round pick in the 2021 draft for videotaping the Bengals’ sideline last year.
Newton, who has been plagued with injuries in recent years and was released from the Carolina Panthers on March 24, reportedly signed an incentive-laden, one-year contract that could earn him up to $7.5 million. The exact amount he’ll make depends on his performance and whether or not he hits certain incentives.
It’s a “bare minimum deal,” according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
It could be considered “the bargain of the off-season,” reports ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, and is a very low-risk deal for New England: If Newton gets hurt or doesn’t beat out Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham for the starting position, “New England would presumably be out only about $1 million.”
Not surprisingly, it’ll be a huge pay cut for the former Carolina Panther, who was named MVP of the league in 2015 and led the Panthers to their second Super Bowl appearance that same year. His average annual salary over the past five seasons has been $20.8 million.
Tom Brady, the quarterback he’s replacing in New England, signed a two-year, $50 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this spring. Teddy Bridgewater, the quarterback replacing Newton in Carolina, signed a three-year, $63 million deal.
A few reasons may explain why Newton had to settle for a minimum deal, including coronavirus restrictions: With facilities closed, he couldn’t work out with other teams during the off-season, which would have allowed coaches to evaluate his condition after being sidelined for all but two games last season due to injuries.
Richard Sherman, cornerback for the San Francisco 49ers, was disgusted by the deal. “How many former League MVPs have had to sign for the min?” he wrote on Twitter. “Less talented QBs” are getting paid $15 to $16 million a year, he added.
Other players took to Twitter to congratulate Newton, including his former teammate Jonathan Stewart:
Another former teammate, Greg Olsen, assured the Patriots that they’re “getting a stud”:
At the end of the day, Newton is employed after being out of work since the Panthers released him in March — and he’s looking forward to the opportunity. “I’m excited as I don’t know what right now,” he posted on Twitter on Sunday, adding: “#LetsGoPats.”