For all the drama that has followed Cam Newton in his short NFL career he has been an asset to the Carolina Panthers.
He has revived a team that was once the worst in the NFL, leading it to consecutive NFC South titles. This is no small feat given the talent on Carolina’s offense.
But Cam Newton is not Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson. He is a good quarterback in a league where two of the best must be looking at the five-year, $103m extension Newton and the Panthers have reportedly agreed to on Tuesday and wonder what they must be worth in the coming year. And that could make executives at the Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks very nervous.
Already, the Seahawks and Wilson – who has taken Seattle to back-to-back Super Bowls – are struggling to find a second contract for him. News that Newton will be paid up to $67m in the first three years will probably not smooth those conversations.
The going rate for a starting quarterback on a playoff team is about $20m a year. Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and Drew Brees are all making more than this annually. The Panthers desperately need Newton despite his sometimes erratic play and had little choice but to make the deal they struck this week. He has thrown for 14,426 yards and run for another 2,571 in his four-year career. But he has also been intercepted 54 times and has been prone to fumbles. He is not a certainty and the extension is a risk for the Panthers despite the fact Newton has only missed two games in his career.
It’s easy to forget that Newton only turned 26 years last month on a team that should only get better the next few seasons. Carolina made the only deal it could. Will Seattle and Indianapolis be able to do the same?
This article was written by Les Carpenter, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 2nd June 2015 23.30 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010