After just three weeks of action, plenty of observers outside of Gillette Stadium are already talking up the idea of Cam Newton turning what he’s called a “business trip” to New England to lead the team for the 2020 season into a long-term marriage.
After sitting on the open market for nearly three months, Newton inked a one-year deal this summer that maxes out at little more than $7 million even if the former NFL MVP reaches all its incentives.
Though he’s already reported that a new contract for Newton in New England would be unlikely during the season, NFL Network information guy Ian Rapoport said in a Wednesday morning interview on The Greg Hill Show on WEEI that a deal after the season could certainly be in the cards.
“I think if it continues like this, then I would say it’s possible,” Rapoport said. “But there are a couple things that would go into this situation. From the Patriots side, they really haven’t been a team that’s jumped out there and done some really, really early extensions unless it’s going to benefit them like crazy. There have been a couple offensive line extensions I know they have done that have been very team-friendly. I think when it comes to the Patriots they’d really like to wait and see where Cam is physically. Obviously right now he’s great. Through three games he’s been exactly what they hoped for. But he did break down the two previous seasons, so locking him up long term with a lot of guaranteed money, and people scoff at injury guarantees but that would be the thing that would be most relevant here, so I would say the Patriots would be careful locking in a short-term solution.
“As far as Cam goes, let’s say he’s playing well midway through the season. Well, it’s the Patriots. They always go to the playoffs and when they go to the playoffs sometimes they go deep into the playoffs. Would he agree to some deal midway through the season and possibly stunt his own value not knowing what he does on the biggest stage? I’m not sure it makes sense for either side. And you get to the offseason and you have the franchise tag. And a lot of times for the quarterbacks or these marquee positions, it comes down to franchise tag and then do a deal from there.”
Would Newton even be interested in an extension in New England? Or is he looking to simply play things out and then cash in elsewhere?
“I think he wants to play it out and see what he can get, not necessarily elsewhere,” Rapoport said. “If it worked out where he signed a big deal with the Patriots I think that would be great. I know Cam likes it in New England a lot. I know the coaches have been really pleasantly surprised with everything they have seen. And the players too. It has been fantastic thus far. If he wants to go out and get $40 million a year I just have a hard time imagining it’s New England. I really do think the Patriots are happy to get out from under a massive quarterback contract, even though the guy they were paying was Tom Brady. So my sense, just from my read on the situation, is that if it makes sense for Cam and doesn’t kill the Patriots they would do it. If he wants $40 million a year I think they would probably draft and figure it out from there.”
If things go as they have so far – a healthy Newton showing impressive production as both a runner and a passer leading the Patriots to a 2-1 record to open the season and seemingly altering the expectations of the team for the better in the first season without Tom Brady – the price tag for the former No. 1 overall pick will only continue to rise, potentially to more than $30 million a year.
“It really should be. Would he take less to stay with the Patriots, I don’t know,” Rapoport said of Newton’s value after a successful season. “Maybe he just decides he likes it there. But I would think you are talking in the $30 (million) range for a starting quarterback who is healthy, who’s in his low 30s, who leads a team to the playoffs.”
Beyond questions about Newton’s future in Foxborough, another narrative making the rounds regarding the Patriots quarterback is whether other NFL teams are upset that he somehow landed perfectly on his feet with Belichick in New England.
“They are not livid at all because it’s the most Patriots thing ever and they’ve seen it a million times. So it’s not like…no one’s angry. No one’s upset,” Rapoport told GHS. “They just kind of shrug and go, ‘Of course. Obviously.’ What’s crazy is he didn’t get, he was calling around, he was trying to get traded. By the time it got to May and June he would have singed for whatever. The contract the Patriots got him, if he plays well it’s going to end up being fair. But it’s extremely small. So everyone could have done that. I think a lot of teams decided to buy into what they had heard rather than really doing the research. I mean the first thing that Bill Belichick did when he was interested in signing Cam was he said let me talk to Cam, let me find out for myself what this guy is about. Which I think not enough teams did.”