Even if new Patriots quarterback Cam Newton hits every incentive in his one-year deal (which are all presumably based on playing and playing well), he’ll make $7.5 million. As NFL starting quarterbacks go, that’s peanuts.
But Newton realizes that peanuts now can lead to platinum later, if he plays well and sets the stage for a shot at free agency in 2021 or, at worst, the franchise tag in New England (assuming the contract lets them use it). He could have waited for a starter to get injured in 2020, but plenty of teams who lose their QB1 opt to bump QB2 into the top spot, given that he knows the system better than a stranger.
In New England, Newton will learn the system. If healthy, he should be able to win the starting job. If healthy, the Patriots should be able to win plenty of games.
To put the move in proper perspective, think of it this way: How are Dolphins, Bills, and Jets fans feeling tonight? Not too good.
Patriots fans have to be feeling great. Although the team believes in its system, the man who runs the show is smart enough to know that Newton is better than anyone they had on the roster. Now, he gets a change to earn the starting job, to re-establish himself as a high-end player, to perhaps chase a Super Bowl win, and to position himself to be one of the top free agents available in 2021 — unless he extends his stay in New England indefinitely.