No matter which way you slice it, the New England Patriots are getting a bargain in signing Cam Newton.
The one-year contract for the 2015 NFL MVP includes just $550,000 guaranteed of the $1.05 million in base salary, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.
The deal includes $700,000 in per-game roster bonuses and $5.75 million in incentives. The max earnings Newton can reach if he hits all those incentives is $7.5 million total on the one-year deal.
With just $550,000 guaranteed, the deal is the dictionary definition of low-risk for the Patriots. If Newton gets to New England and isn't healthy, Bill Belichick can quickly cut bait for the smallest of salary-cap hits.
Compare Newton's guaranteed money with the one-year deals of Jameis Winston, who got $1.1 million, or, better yet, Andy Dalton, who got a $3 million fully guaranteed deal to be Dak Prescott's backup. Blaine Gabbert got $887,500 guaranteed to help Tom Brady learn Bruce Arians' offense. Newton's guaranteed money is identical to the $550,000 guaranteed the New York Jets handed an injured Joe Flacco on his $1.5 million deal. But, hey, at least Newton got some guaranteed money from the Pats, unlike Brian Hoyer, who got zero dollars guaranteed on his $1.05 million contract.
While the guaranteed portion is spectacularly low for a player of Newton's pedigree, the Patriots offer something no other team could: a legit shot at starting duties.
If Newton remains healthy, he should win the starting gig and recoup some dinero by way of the nearly $6 million in incentives. It's likely the career starter didn't want to sign on elsewhere to hold a clipboard hoping for an injury to get a shot to play. And if that were his only option, he'd likely have needed more guaranteed money to get it done -- as an incentive-laden deal like he signed in New England wouldn't have been beneficial without a clear path to potentially earning those dollars.
The Pats offer Newton a chance to start, rehab the narrative surrounding his health and hit the market next season with the possibility of landing a lucrative long-term deal if everything goes well in 2020.