Newton tossed a career-low in interceptions—and touchdowns—last season in addition to rushing for a career-low 539 yards and five touchdowns. But you’ll have to forgive the two-time Pro Bowler, because who needs ‘stats’ or ‘wins’ when you play in the NFC South? Although the Panthers have seen limited team success with him at the helm—Newton is 30-31-1 through four seasons, including a 7-8-1, division-winning regular season in 2014—they know that a franchise quarterback is hardest thing to find, and when you do, you lock them up.
After suffering miserably from a lack of options in the passing game last year, the Panthers picked up Michigan’s Devin Funchess with their second-round pick. The 6-foot-5 speedster will pair with Kelvin Benjamin, who turned out to be a stud despite being Newton’s only option outside of Greg Olsen last year.
We don’t know how much of Newton’s paycheck is fully guaranteed, but at least on the face of it he joins the $20 million club that includes Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, and Joe Flacco. Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick have high ceilings, but are dependent on incentives to realize the bulk of their deals.
Newton joins Ryan Tannehill in the current crop of quality QBs to re-up for the rest of the decade. Russell Wilson is expected to sign an extension, and Newton’s numbers will probably set the bar for negotiations. Expect Andrew Luck to blow them all away when his deal gets done.