Cam Newton will be back with the New England Patriots in 2021.
The quarterback is re-signing with the Patriots on a one-year contract, according to multiple reports Friday morning. Jim McBride of The Boston Globe was the first to report the impending transaction.
Newton’s contract will be “worth close to $14 million,” according to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter. It’s unclear what his salary cap hit will be and how much of that total will need to be earned through incentives.
The contract Newton signed with the Patriots last July included just $1.05 million in base salary. He wound up earning just over $3.7 million through incentives, out of a possible $7.5 million.
Newton rushed for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first season with New England but struggled as a passer, ranking near the bottom of the league in passer rating, QBR, touchdown passes and interception rate. The Patriots lacked top-end talent at wide receiver and tight end, however, and Newton’s efforts to learn New England’s complex offense were stunted by his delayed signing and midseason bout with COVID-19.
The Patriots ranked last in the NFL in receptions by tight ends for the second consecutive season and had just one reliable option at wideout: second-year pro Jakobi Meyers, who tallied nearly as many receiving yards as every other Pats wideout and tight end combined over the final 11 games.
The 2015 NFL MVP completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 2,657 yards and eight touchdowns with 10 interceptions over 15 games in 2020. He was benched for backup Jarrett Stidham during blowout losses to the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams and Buffalo Bills.
Newton recently expressed an interest in re-signing with the Patriots, and head coach Bill Belichick routinely praised his work ethic and attitude as the team stumbled to a 7-9 record, its worst since 2000.
The Patriots, who also have quarterbacks Stidham and Jake Dolegala under contract for the upcoming season, still could add competition at the position through free agency, trades or the 2021 NFL Draft.
New England entered Friday with upward of $60 million in available salary cap space. The new NFL league year — when teams can begin signing external free agents and finalizing traded — begins next Wednesday, March 17.