Cam Newton may be part of a select group of athletic freaks to don the “Superman” nickname, but unlike Shaquille O’Neal or Dwight Howard, Newton has no intentions of bolting away from the team that drafted him.
Coming into his fourth year in the NFL, Newton is under contract for one more season, and then would be under a team-option extension for the 2015 season. As that fifth year extension can be a risky proposition for both sides, there is a likelihood that both Newton and the Panthers will look to strike a deal during the offseason. The reason being, Newton would like the security of a long-term contract and Carolina would end up having to pay franchise tag type money, equal to the average salary of the top 10 highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL, which could end up being higher than they would pay him under a new contract.
That being said, it’s not going to be as easy said as done. According to Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman, it’s “going to be interesting.”
The problem is that Newton is the first in a new era of NFL players to be in this position. After the NFL and NFL Players’ Association agreed on the league’s new CBA, there was a seismic shift in how rookies were paid, especially first-overall picks. For instance, the year before Newton was drafted, Sam Bradford signed a six-year, $86 million contract after being picked first-overall. The next year, Newton, taken at the same pick, only garnered a four-year, $22 million contract: Nearly a $10 million a year difference.
So, when Carolina’s front office and Newton’s representatives begin discussions, there is likely to be major disagreements as to how much Newton should be paid. When there really is no precedence, it will be difficult for either side to make a definitive case. Meaning, this process is likely to drag out a long time.
Already, other players drafted in the same class as Newton, and facing the same issues, have come out and said they would consider holding out to ensure they get the contracts they desire. Patrick Peterson, of the Arizona Cardinals, wouldn’t rule out a holdout, and other top athletes such as J.J. Watt, Von Miller and A.J. Green will all find themselves in similar positions.
Fortunately, for Panthers fans, there is no need to worry about Newton. When asked whether or not he would consider holding out, he replied, “Absolutely not.”
According to Newton, in contrast to Peterson, being a quarterback does not allow for such things as holding out.
“I think our positions are completely different,” Newton said in comparison of Peterson. “Being the leader of this team, I don’t think that would be a good look for me. Not taking anything away from Patrick, he’s an unbelievable player, and an elite corner in the league. But there’s some things cornerbacks can do that quarterbacks can’t.”
Coming off the best season of his career, the only thing Newton is worried about is equaling the success of another young quarterback, Russell Wilson.
“My main focus is trying to become a better player,” said Newton. “I think Russell Wilson put a lot of pressure on young quarterbacks, but needless to say, we don’t have that fallback answer no more. We’re no longer young quarterbacks.”
It sure seems that Newton, who has often been questioned on his maturity, is growing up into on of the elite leaders in the NFL.
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