Yes, people like Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton get the headlines - 5 years $96 million dollars, or whatever the individual case may be. It sound like a ton of money, but as we all know headlines are simply sound bites to get you to read or listen as "teasers."
Take Dalton's contract for instance. Only $17 million in guaranteed money, which is far less than a guy like, say, Miami's WR Mike Wallace. He got about double that in guarantees, and he's not even a quarterback!
No, Cam's looking for a lot more guaranteed money than the contracts Kaepernick and Dalton are getting. In fact, the Bengals can actually CUT Dalton after two years and not really be hit financially because of the way the contract is structured.
Kaepernick's is similar in many ways.
What this tells me is that their respective clubs want to keep these guys - and pay them well for the next couple of years - but it's not "elite QB" money. They seem to be combinations of a "prove it" contract with several long "option-type" years at the end.
I think it's fair to say Kaepernick and Dalton are above-average QBs, but their lack of playoff success makes their respective GMs and owners reluctant to give that full-out huge contract such as say a Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Drew Brees enjoys. A million or more per game in their cases, or close to it in Tom's case.
The reason? All are Super Bowl-winning QBs. Same reason Joe Flacco got his huge-money contract, although I do not believe he is in the same class as the "top three." He did get hot in the playoffs, however, and that is the key.
Problem: Cam knows darned well he falls into that "tweener" category right now, empirically speaking.
He has as much natural TALENT as any QB in the NFL and perhaps even more so when you consider his elite arm strength, size, and overall athleticism. For example, recently other NFL players voted that Cam would make the best NFL linebacker of any current QB, which is actually a compliment.
One said "Can you imagine seeing Cam rush the QB off the edge? *I* wouldn't wanna block him."
The stumbling block remains, however. Cam Newton is 0-1 in playoff games.
Certainly, he has his team on the upswing with improving records in each of his first three seasons. In his case, Rivera's "Three Year Plan" worked out nearly exactly as drawn up, which is unusual in itself. He's taken the team from 5-11 his rookie season to 12-4 last year...Cam or Ron R. both.
Colin Kaepernick only got $13 million guaranteed which "really scares people who know Cam Newton very well."
On the other hand, Cam claims "I'm not terrified of anything." As it stands right now, the Panthers have Cam under contract through the end of next season but have expressed an interest in signing the signal-caller to a long-term deal.
Given GM Dave Gettleman's penny-pinching ways and the hindsight of Marty Hurney's huge guaranteed contracts, Cam's going to REALLY have to earn his way to a big mega-deal of a contract. Negotiations haven't yet begun, but I'm willing to bet the Panthers' organization wants to see him at LEAST win a playoff game and more likely a deeper run into the playoffs - if not a Super Bowl berth.
Here's what the Charlotte Observer has to say about the situation.
If you take Kaepernick's contract as a "starting point," Cam's final contract will likely not bear much resemblance if Cam gets his way with things.
At least Newton will be making $14.67 million in his 5th year - 2015 - as the Panthers exercised their option on him. In other words, Cam's 5th year is going to be very much like a "Franchise tag" without an actual franchise tag. Such appears to be the contract's structure, at any rate.
According to the Charlotte Observer article, Cam's contract needs to be closer to that of Jay Cutler's new deal. Joel Corry, a former NFL agent, says “I think $18 million (a year) gets you in the game for Cam, with $50 million in guarantees.”
That would seem to be a pretty big ballpark and a pitcher's paradise, so we all need to expect a fairly long, drawn-out process when the two sides DO begin to negotiate. That's getting towards Manning or Brees-type money and Cam doesn't yet even have a single playoff victory, let alone a Super Bowl ring like those two do.
So we fans are going to have to be patient and let the suits do their jobs. When all is said and done, here's what I'm thinking....and I'm just throwing a somewhat educated guess at the length and the numbers:
6 years, $118 million, with $40 million in guaranteed money.
Much less than that, I'm afraid, and the "entertainer and icon" could well test the free-agent market.
And unfortunately, that's a very real possibility.
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