Who would have thought Cam Newton would have a lower base salary than 49 other NFL quarterbacks in 2020?
The 31-year-old quarterback has missed 16 games over the last two seasons and has undergone shoulder and foot surgeries in that span.
Still, many assumed he'd be signed quickly after the Carolina Panthers released him in March. But the COVID-19 pandemic prevented teams from seeing Newton in person, and it wasn't until July 8 that he signed a paltry $1.05 million contract with the New England Patriots.
According to one NFL agent, that sum is a far cry from what Newton likely would have earned in a non-COVID offseason.
"If not for the pandemic, one N.F.L. agent said, the market for Newton would have been robust," the New York Times' Ben Shpigel wrote in a recent feature on Newton.
That's a fair point, as teams with concerns about Newton's injuries were unwilling to open their checkbooks without being able to physically evaluate him in person.
But can Newton still earn elite-QB money, or is he past his prime? This same agent believes the former, predicting the three-time Pro Bowler could net a deal similar to the six-year, $100 million contract a 31-year-old Mike Vick earned from the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011 if he plays well this season.
Such a deal likely would be too rich for the Patriots' blood, which ironically means the better Newton plays this year, the more likely he is to sign elsewhere in 2021 free agency.
And let's just say expectations are high for Tom Brady's successor.
Then again, paying an NFL MVP less than Matt Schaub would be a nice feather in Bill Belichick's cap.