Following a 7-9 season in 2020, there were questions about whether the New England Patriots would bring Cam Newton back for a second season. The team provided the answer on Friday by signing the veteran to a one-year deal worth $14 million. Here is how the contract impacts the Patriots' finances.
According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, the deal is incentive-heavy with a low base value of $5 million. This number breaks down to a $2 million signing bonus, a fully-guaranteed $1.5 million base salary, and $1.5 million in per-game roster bonuses. The remaining money ($9 million) comes in the form of incentives. Newton will earn varying levels of money by leading the team to the playoffs and the Super Bowl. He can also walk away with more money for earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl nominations. Another incentive is winning league MVP, which he previously did in 2015.
Prior to the 2021 season, only the base salary and the signing bonus count against the salary cap. The per-game roster bonus will also count if Newton starts all 16 games. He missed one outing in 2020 due to testing positive for COVID-19. The remaining $9 million will not become relevant to the cap until the 2022 league year.
According to salary cap expert Miguel Benzan, the Patriots had roughly $65,250,990 remaining after signing Newton and trading offensive tackle Marcus Cannon to the Houston Texans. The number did not account for the acquisition of Trent Brown, Justin Bethel, or any other free agents.
The Patriots have been busy with the start of the new league year approaching. The team signed former Ravens defender Matthew Judon to a four-year, $56 million deal and former Eagles defensive back Jalen Mills to a four-year, $24 million deal. These two contracts capped off a busy afternoon for the Patriots considering that the team previously signed former Titans tight end Jonnu Smith to a four-year, $50 million deal and former Dolphins defensive lineman to a two-year, $16 million deal.
The Patriots are not normally this busy during free agency, but the moves prompted jokes from the team about whether Bill Belichick's dog was the one making the deals. Additionally, the $65.25 million in cap space gave the team some room to work. Bolstering the roster is critical following a losing season as the Patriots strive to compete with the Buffalo Bills for the NFC East crown. Bringing Newton back on a team-friendly deal aided in this goal.