Cam Newton is back in New England.
The Patriots are re-signing Newton to a one-year contract, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero confirmed Friday, per a source informed of the situation.
Jim McBride of The Boston Globe first reported the news.
Newton can earn up to $13.6 million on the deal, but it will take a lot to get there. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo and Tom Pelissero reported that the pact is made up of $1.5 million in guaranteed base salary, a $2 million signing bonus, $1.5 million in per-game roster bonuses, $100,000 in workout bonuses and $8.5 million in incentives for reaching the playoffs, making the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams, being named MVP or Super Bowl MVP, among other things.
At $5.1 million with $3.5 million guaranteed, Newton will make about as much as backup QB Chase Daniel will in Detroit this season. While there's significant upside thanks to incentives, Newton is being paid as if he could eventually be the Patriots' backup.
Cam played 2020 in New England on a one-year, $1.75 million contract with heavy incentives. The 31-year-old started 15 games, completing 65.8 percent of his passes for 2,657 yards, with eight TDs and 10 INTs. His passer rating of 82.9 placed him 22th overall among qualifying QBs, per NFL Research. Newton also added 592 rushing yards and 12 TDs on the ground.
Newton missed one game after testing positive for COVID-19 early in the season. The QB said this offseason that missing that time put him behind and partially led to his struggles later in the 2020 season.
Newton was last in passing YPG (177.1) and TD-INT ratio among 26 QBs with 10-plus starts in 2020. However, Newton accounted for 13 of the Patriots' 32 scrimmage TDs in 2020 (40.6 percent), the highest percentage by any player in the NFL -- next-closest QB was Arizona's Kyler Murray with 22.4 percent. Cam was the No. 17 player on NFL.com's list of top 101 free agents at the time of his deal.
A reunion shouldn't come as a surprise, as NFL Network's Mike Giardi noted earlier this month. Coach Bill Belichick has spoken encouragingly about Newton, and the QB has suggested he'd like to remain in New England.
Asked last month on the "I Am Athlete" podcast if he would welcome a return to the Patriots, the former NFL MVP was emphatic.
"Yes. Hell yes! I'm getting tired of changing [teams]," Newton said.
Now Newton won't have to change teams for at least one more season.
Having a full offseason under offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels should help Newton progress in Year 2 in New England. Re-signing the veteran is at least a tacit signal that the Pats believed the surrounding situation had more to do with the offense's struggles than Newton's play deteriorating.
There is no getting around that the QB's passing must improve in 2021. At times last season, Newton missed passes brutally, throwing sinkers into the dirt, and rarely stretched the field. Those issues must be smoothed out moving forward.
Now it's on the Patriots to use their significant cap space to buffer the offense with additional playmakers that will make life easier on the quarterback.
Re-signing Newton to a one-year deal won't preclude Belichick from searching for a long-term solution, particularly in the draft. Ahead of the start of free agency, with few palatable options to add a veteran signal-caller, however, keeping Newton in New England makes sense for all parties.