FOXBORO -- After about three months, a virtual offseason, training camp and two regular-season games, people are wondering whether the marriage between Cam Newton and the Patriots is one that will last.
The Patriots got what looks like the steal of the offseason -- maybe the steal of the last several offseasons -- by signing Newton to a deal for the veteran minimum salary that included incentives that could push his total pay to $7.5 million.
But with the way the contract has been drawn up, Newton could hit unrestricted free agency after this season. If healthy, and if he can continue the pace at which he's racked up statistics through two weeks, he'd be in line to be paid handsomely. The Patriots could also place the franchise tag on Newton for 2021, locking him into one more year in Foxboro.
In some ways, from the outside looking in, this season appears to be one long feeling-out process. Sure, the Patriots are finding out what they have in Newton, who ran away with the starting quarterback job in training camp and was chosen by his teammates to be a captain. But, unless he's tagged, Newton could have an array of suitors next offseason. And so this is a long, drawn out, get-to-know-you process for him as well.
Asked on Thursday if after three months he could envision himself sticking with the Patriots for the long haul, he was as elusive as he looked in the pocket at times in Seattle last weekend.
"My focus is short-term," he said. "And that has a lot to do with the Las Vegas Raiders. I understand where we're trying to go, and I understand the questions that you're asking. But I'm gonna say it again: That's not my focus.
"If that had been the case, I would've did more. I would've said more. I would've waited more. ... That's irrelevant. For me, right now, it's all about winning. Let's get back to that. We got too many people worried about chasing the bag. If you do what you're supposed to do, everything's going to take care of itself."
If anyone has an argument to be handed a decent-sized bag in short order, it's Newton. As it stands now, Newton is making fewer guaranteed dollars for this season than backups like Jeff Driskel, Matt Schaub and Matt Barkley. Marcus Mariota and Andy Dalton both signed larger free-agent contracts to back up in Vegas and Dallas, respectively, and both were inked while Newton remained unemployed.
"For right now, my main focus is trying to make sure that I am the best quarterback for the New England Patriots that I can possibly be," he said. "That's where my head has been and that's where it's going to stay. My focus, just knowing that I can't allow anything to distract me.
"The fact about things are, we are 1-1. Another fact is we lost a game that we were well capable of winning and we had an opportunity on the one yard line. Yes. My main focus now is how, if put in that same position here on Sunday, how can I change that narrative so to speak. And that's pretty much what it is."
Newton said on WEEI's Greg Hill Show earlier this week that he wasn't focused on money at this point in his career.
"Surprisingly but true and factual enough, if I do what I am supposed to do, as I am expecting to, that will not be a topic of discussion here moving forward," Newton said Tuesday. "Like I said, you're talking to a person who — money at this particular point in my career is not important, right? Let's be honest, I've made money. But for everything I play this game for, I haven't received yet. And that's why I'm playing. It's not about money, it's about respect.
"And especially going back to the negotiating table when this opportunity presented itself, I didn't want to keep going back-and-forth, this and that. I said, 'Listen, let's get the deal done. Let's do it.' For all that it's worth, it's going to pay dividends moving forward. I do believe this: A wise man once said, and that wise man is my father, 'All blessings do not come in financial means.' Just because you have money and do that, blessings come in many different forms than that. For me, if I do what I am supposed to do, everything else will take care of itself."
With Newton fitting in as he has, and producing as he has, that's an approach the Patriots can certainly appreciate. The question is, will they see enough at some point soon to give him a raise? Or hand him an extension?
There's plenty to consider. Age. Injury history. Locker-room dynamics. Complications that could crop up should the team decide to swing for a big-name player via trade who'd require a lucrative new deal. But if Newton is OK with putting his next contract on the back burner for now, the front office at One Patriots Place probably won't mind doing the same.