Could Cam Newton’s Contract Incentives Affect Patriots QB Decision?

Cam Newton has $2.25 million to lose over the last two weeks of the season

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December 21, 2020

Cam Newton has 250,000 reasons to want to start the New England Patriots’ final two games.

When Newton signed with the Patriots in July, incentives were built into his contract. Here’s a full rundown, via ESPN’s Field Yates:

Since the Patriots aren’t making the playoffs and Newton won’t be an All-Pro, and because the QB is a major longshot for Pro Bowl honors, the playing-time incentives are most notable.

Newton has played 778 out of a possible 896 offensive snaps for the Patriots this season. That’s 86.8 percent of snaps. He’s also been active for 13 of 14 games. He’s currently due to earn $3,618,750.

If Newton stays above that 80-percent threshold and is active for the Patriots’ final two games, he’d make $3,706,250.

The Patriots have averaged 64 offensive snaps per game. If Newton doesn’t play another offensive snap this season and is benched for Jarrett Stidham, and if the Patriots stay on their current snap trajectory, then Newton would finish with 76 percent of snaps and lose $250,000. If Newton plays one full game but is benched for the other, he’d still likely hit that 80-percent threshold and make the $250,000. Newton would lose an additional $43,750 for any game he’s inactive.

The Patriots have still paid players unearned contract incentives in the past, with defensive tackle Lawrence Guy being a prime example. He would have been shorted on $500,000 by missing his playing-time incentive by .2 percentage points in 2017. The Patriots simply added that $500,000 to the next year of his contract.

Newton is on a one-year deal, so the Patriots wouldn’t have the option to tack $250,000 onto the next year of his contract. The Eagles paid quarterback Nick Foles, who technically wasn’t under contract with Philadelphia, a $1 million signing bonus after he missed out on playing-time incentives by just four snaps during the 2018 season. Foles also won a Super Bowl for the Eagles.

Newton agreed to a bargain-basement deal with the Patriots this offseason, and the contract obviously didn’t come with any guarantees for playing time. The Patriots might not want to short change Newton after he’s been a good soldier all season, however.

*Article previously incorrectly stated Newton could lose $2.25 million in contract incentives.

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton
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