Were the Patriots to see a rejuvenated Cam Newton this season, they will not only have exclusive negotiating rights regarding an extension. They can keep the quarterback via the franchise tag, with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweeting Newton’s contract will not prevent the Pats from tagging him in 2021.
Newton signed a one-year, incentive-laden deal that could max out at just $7.5MM. The non-exclusive franchise tag for quarterbacks came in at $26.8MM this year. This season will certainly be a high-stakes slate for Newton’s future, but the Patriots having the ability to keep him around without an extension agreement is also notable.
The Patriots were the only team to offer the former MVP a contract. Newton has undergone three surgeries since the beginning of the 2017 offseason — two shoulder procedures and the most recent foot operation — and has missed 16 of the past 18 games. And, excepting the first half of the 2018 season, Newton has struggled since Super Bowl 50. His cumulative QBR since the start of the 2016 season ranks 30th, so a Patriots future beyond 2020 cannot yet be considered a certainty.
But he should be on track to be the Pats’ Week 1 starter, giving him a chance to immediately revive his stock — something Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston are not expected to have, given their agreements to be backup quarterbacks this season. Dalton, Winston, Newton and Philip Rivers agreed to one-year deals, which could set up another rare buyer’s-market scenario at quarterback.
New England was prohibited from tagging Tom Brady this year, after the future Hall of Famer negotiated a deal that allowed him to leave in free agency without that bridge to cross. The Pats have gone year-to-year at quarterback for a bit now, with Brady not landing the extension he sought late in his 20-year New England run. Newton will need to answer some questions before the tag becomes an option, but this scenario will be on the table should the ex-Panthers centerpiece return to form.
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