Cam Newton Rumors: Patriots Contract Allows for Franchise Tag in 2021

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 30, 2020

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
Mike McCarn/Associated Press

Should Cam Newton have a monster 2020 season with the New England Patriots, he may not be able to cash in with a massive multiyear contract.

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Newton agreed to a one-year deal with New England that will max out at $7.5 million. CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora followed up Tuesday to report the contract "does not include a provision preventing New England from applying a 2021 franchise tag" on Newton.

Perhaps this was a sticking point for the Patriots during negotiations given the circumstances of Tom Brady's departure this offseason.

Rapoport reported in August 2019 that Brady had agreed to an extension with the team. Under the terms of the contract, the team couldn't apply the franchise or transition tags on the legendary quarterback ahead of the 2020 season.

Newton might also feel New England is the best place for him to reassert himself as a starting quarterback in the NFL. The franchise's track record speaks for itself, and he should have a great opportunity to be the No. 1 option since Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham are his competition.

Failing to insert a clause similar to the one Brady had could end up costing Newton money down the road, however.

The better he plays, the more likely it seemingly becomes for New England to bring him back on a one-year tender. That would allow the 2015 MVP to get a big short-term payout. The quarterback franchise and transition tags are worth $26.8 million and $24.8 million, respectively, in 2020.

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However, that would potentially create a situation where Newton doesn't hit to the open market again until he's 33 (he turned 31 in May).

Matt Ryan was 33 when he agreed to his five-year, $150 million extension with the Atlanta Falcons. Should Newton play well over 2020 and 2021, he might be in line to receive a huge contract. That would also be at a time when Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson (both of whom are free agents in 2022) will surely have reset the going rate for elite passers.

Still, the presence of the franchise/transition tags will limit Newton's flexibility next offseason should he return to form in his first year with the Patriots.

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