Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers have agreed to a new five-year, $103 million contract, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
It's a monster deal.
The contract includes $30 million in the first year and a record-setting $67.6 million in potential earnings over the first three years of the deal. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that $60 million is guaranteed.
We still don't know how much of the $60 million is fully guaranteed versus guaranteed just for injury. But with a quarterback like Newton — an established, quality starter who isn't going to just get cut if he has a bad year — the difference is not as significant as it is for other players.
More than any of the NFL's other $100 million quarterback contracts, this deal will set the bar for players like Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck.
Most of the recent quarterback contracts have fallen into one of two categories.
On the one hand, there are the deals signed by guys like Colin Kaepernick (seven years, $126 million) and Andy Dalton (seven years, $96 million). These deals look great on the surface and have the potential to be lucrative, but they are basically year-to-year contracts with little guaranteed money where the teams can cut them at any time.
On the other hand, there's the type of quarterback contract that has gone to players like Aaron Rodgers (five years, $110 million) and Jay Cutler (seven years, $127 million). These deals look similar on the surface to Kaepernick and Dalton's deals, but they come with much more security in the form of larger signing bonuses and actual guaranteed money in future seasons. Both Rodgers and Cutler received $54 million fully guaranteed, the most for a quarterback at the time.
Newton's deal is more similar to the Rodgers/Cutler type of contract than the Kaepernick/Dalton type of contract. In fact, it surpasses the Rodgers/Cutler deal in guarantees and money over the first three years of the deal. Going forward, it will be the new benchmark for what franchise quarterbacks coming off of rookie deals look for in contract negotiations.
Newton's deal is important because he's the first big-time quarterback who was drafted under the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement to sign a second contract.
The 2011 NFL Draft — in which Newton was picked No. 1 overall — was the first draft after the new CBA limited the amount of money young players could make. Newton signed a four-year, $22 million contract, a far cry from the six-year, $78 million ($50 million guaranteed) deal Sam Bradford received the year before as the top pick.
Four years later, while not yet an elite quarterback, Newton has proven to be a very good quarterback and was about to enter the option year on his standard rookie contract that would have seen his salary balloon from $3.4 million in 2014 to $14.7 million in 2015 according to Spotrac.
Meanwhile, Wilson and Luck, who were both drafted the year after Newton, are the next two young quarterbacks that are in line for new contracts, having just completed the third year of their rookie deals.
Talks of a new deal for Luck have mostly been quiet as the Colts have decided to wait until next summer to negotiate a new deal. On the other hand, there were reports of Wilson receiving a new contract this offseason. However, it now appears the two sides are far apart and he may also have to wait until at least next summer before signing his first big contract.
While both quarterbacks were looking at deals starting in the neighborhood of Cutler and Rodgers ($54 million guaranteed), it now looks like it will cost the Seahawks and Colts a lot more to keep their franchise quarterbacks and the young QBs can thank Newton and the Panthers.