As our Kevin Patra wrote earlier Thursday, Cam Newton's contract is the ultimate bargain for the Patriots.
The quarterback knows this, but he doesn't care, because his joining New England is about more than income.
"It's not a lot of things MONEY cannot buy, BUT amongst the top of that list of things, you would find RESPECT as one of those!!" Newton wrote on Instagram hours after his contract details -- in which New England is guaranteed to pay him just $550,000 -- became public. "THIS IS NOT ABOUT MONEY FOR ME; it's about RESPECT."
Newton is five years removed from setting the league on fire with his MVP season and run to Super Bowl 50 in 2015. He reached free agency after Carolina cut him with one year left on his five-year, $103.8 million extension. His current deal, worth a maximum of $7.5 million if he hits every single incentive in it, includes a base salary of $1.05 million and just $550,000 guaranteed. It doesn't take a mathematics degree to point out the massive difference in compensation.
Newton's on a path of redemption, though, which is evident in his many social media postings frequently tagged with #shineTHRUtheSHADE. He made it clear in a video posted June 29 he never wanted to leave Carolina, but said it was the franchise's decision to part ways with him. Now, he's out to prove his worth with the Patriots. That's where we enter the respect portion of the program.
How does the football world view Newton, then? His past accomplishments are undeniable, but the main question with him is: Where is he now? From a health standpoint, we won't know until he takes the field. And that's where most of his respect is rooted on July 2, 2020.
For the last two years, Newton hasn't been the same player who once won MVP. His effectiveness gradually diminished as the injuries mounted, with nearly every throw looking laborious near the end of 2018, and a foot injury landing him on injured reserve in 2019. He's no longer viewed in the same realm as the game's elite signal-callers.
But that doesn't mean he can't recapture some of the magic that once made him special. A healthy Newton in a strong organization like New England could be a dangerously lucrative combination. With on-field achievement, the respect would come rushing back like water through a breached dam.
That respect won't return until Newton earns it on the field. For that chance, he's taken less money. He'd rather fill his bank account with the appreciation of those who forgot about him.