When the Patriots signed Cam Newton off the free-agent scrap heap this offseason, they didn't have to break the bank.
A one-year deal with less than $1 million in guaranteed money, less than QBs like Chase Daniel, Matt Barkley, Nathan Peterman, and Brett Hundley? They didn't know it at the time, but that's looking like an absolute steal thanks to Newton's performance through two weeks.
Naturally, the conversation about a contract extension is already picking up even though he's only played two games in a Patriots uniform. But is it too early to talk about a new deal?
Albert Breer of the MMQB believes it's not -- and that New England should try to get an extension done sooner rather than later.
"If you're confident in him and you believe what you've seen over the last two weeks is real, then I think you try and pay him now. And I know that sounds a little crazy because it's only two weeks of evidence," Breer said on 98.5 the Sports Hub's "Zolak and Bertrand" on Wednesday afternoon.
"This position is just too important to screw around at. When you have somebody that you think you can win with over an extended period of time and if you believe this is more than just a four-to-six game blip -- because we've seen those in the past -- if you believe that this is more than that, it's just too important of a position. It's just too important a thing to take care of on an NFL team."
So, what type of a deal would make sense for a 31-year-old former MVP whose last two seasons have been hampered by a variety of injuries? Breer suggested Ryan Tannehill's contract -- a four-year, $118 million deal (with $62 million guaranteed) -- as a comp.
"Quarterbacks are expensive, guys. And maybe you get him to take less. I understand why there's sticker shock, because you've been paying less for Tom Brady forever, but this is what everybody else pays for quarterbacks," explained Breer to an incredulous Scott Zolak. "Would you rather have him at that price now or roll the dice and let him get to free agency where you knows what can happen, it's out of your control at that point and you risk the idea that you lose him then and now, all of a sudden, you're starting from zero at quarterback?"
Newton has exceeded expectations through two games, completing over 71 percent of his passes while throwing for 552 yards and a touchdown. He has also rushed for a team-high 122 yards and four touchdowns.
But would it be more advantageous for the Patriots to wait until the offseason and reap the benefits of a quarterback eager to prove himself in a contract year? Breer suggested that the amount of zeroes on his paycheck isn't the motivating factor for Newton, pointing to his MVP season of 2015, when Newton excelled after signing a five-year, $103.8 million contract in the offseason.
"He had actually just gotten paid and they went 15-1 and went to the Super Bowl," Breer said. "The one thing Cam doesn't get enough credit for -- and i think there's a bunch of things like this -- he's super-competitive, so I don't think he's driven so much by money. I don't think this is a guy who you're all of a sudden going to have to worry about mailing it in in a month."
That was exactly the sentiment Newton expressed during his weekly appearance on WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show" on Tuesday morning.
"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," Newton explained.
"I do admire and love the culture of the Patriots. It’s been a place for me that's been therapeutic. This is a place that has been rather challenging for my growth and is making me better. And also, it has been a place that has given me everything for my needs at this particular point in time in my life."
So far, Newton is also fulfilling the Patriots' needs at this particular point. And if he keeps it up, it would definitely make sense for New England to engage Newton on contract extension talks -- either now or later.