This prediction for Cam Newton's next contract may surprise Patriots fans

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Darren Hartwell
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How much? Prediction for Newton's next contract may puzzle Pats fans originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Here's one of the more interesting questions of the offseason: How much will Cam Newton get paid in 2021?

Newton signed with the New England Patriots on a "prove it" contract last July and earned roughly $3.7 million this season in base salary and incentives. But Newton didn't prove much, throwing just eight touchdown passes to 10 interceptions in a Patriots offense that ranked 27th in the NFL in points scored.

So, will a team be willing to spend significant money on an aging quarterback (Newton turns 32 next May) who struggled to do much of anything in the passing game?

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ESPN's Adam Schefter joined WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show" to speculate about Newton's future and noted the Washington Football Team could be a suitor for the QB if he doesn't return to the Patriots.

When asked what a team like Washington might pay Newton, Schefter responded:

"I am going to guess two years, with incentives, $40 to $50 million."

Schefter clarified this is just his speculation and not an actual report. But it's still an eye-popping prediction, especially for Patriots fans who watched Newton fail to throw a touchdown pass in nine of his 15 starts this season.

There's a (thin) case for Newton earning this much: Schefter noted the "going rate" to sign "top" quarterbacks to new contracts is roughly $35 million per year, and while Schefter doesn't see Newton "at that level," QBs like Alex Smith, Teddy Bridgewater and Jacoby Brissett are all making north of $20 million per year.

The Patriots landed Newton the cheap because he went unsigned for nearly three months in free agency after the Carolina Panthers released him in March. If there's at least some interest in the veteran QB -- who did rush for 12 touchdowns this season -- early in free agency, there's a chance he earns close to $20 million in annual base salary with incentives that approach Schefter's number over two seasons.

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The counterargument is that a glorified running back with an injury history is far more likely to earn about half of Schefter's predicted number, assuming he has interest on the open market.

Schefter also insisted the Patriots haven't ruled out bringing Newton back, but there's no way they're shelling out anything close to Tom Brady money ($25 million per year) for the veteran QB after what we saw in 2020.