Denver quarterback Peyton Manning can collect $2 million with a victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, in addition to the $2 million he pocketed for leading the Broncos to a 20-18 victory against New England in the AFC Championship Game.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will see no extra money for winning the Super Bowl, other than the additional endorsements that would come his way.
Newton’s contract includes no incentives for winning the NFC Championship Game, the Super Bowl or league MVP, according to NFL sources familiar with Newton’s deal.
When the Panthers made Newton one of the highest-paid quarterbacks with a five-year, $103.8 million extension in June, the expectations were that Newton would lead the Panthers deep into the playoffs, earn Pro Bowl berths nearly ever year and be in contention for the MVP.
That it has all happened in the seven months since Newton signed the richest contract in Panthers history makes the team’s decision to pay him look that much smarter.
During the press conference announcing his signing, general manager Dave Gettleman and coach Ron Rivera both expressed confidence that Newton could lead the Panthers to the “promised land.”
Santa Clara never looked so good.
“He’s being paid for what we believe he is ... our franchise quarterback,” Rivera said at the time. “We expect him to continue to be that guy on the football field that guys rally behind.”
A different quarterback
From the earliest days of training camp Newton seemed emboldened by the new contract, saying he was different from the other quarterbacks in terms of his skill set and comportment.
But Newton didn’t get fat and happy after signing the deal. Instead, he turned in the best season of his five-year career.
“When you give a guy a contract like that, what are you saying to him?” general manager Dave Gettleman told the Observer last weekend. “You’re saying we believe in you. We trust you. We love you. Here’s the keys to the Lamborghini.”
A different deal
Gettleman said it took just 11 days to finalize the deal with Newton’s representatives, who certainly would have asked the Panthers to include incentive clauses because agents are always going to shoot for the moon.
But there’s an understanding that when a team makes a player among the highest-paid at his position, the contract isn’t going to be loaded with a lot of performance bonuses. The $60 million in guaranteed money was Newton’s bonus – and playoff victories were the expectation.
It doesn’t always work out that way.
Miami signed quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a six-year, $96 million extension a few weeks before Newton received his new deal. Tannehill had a solid season, but the Dolphins fired coach Joe Philbin in October and finished 6-10.
Atlanta gave quarterback Matt Ryan an extension nearly identical to Newton’s before the 2013 season; the Falcons haven’t made the playoffs since.
Different in Denver
Manning’s situation was different.
In March the Broncos asked their 39-year-old quarterback to take a $10 million pay cut, according to reports. The two sides agreed on a $4 million cut in base salary, which Manning could earn back by taking the Broncos to a Super Bowl title in what could be his final game.
After Denver beat New England last weekend, NFL Films cameras picked up Manning telling Patriots coach Bill Belichick: “Hey, listen, this might be my last rodeo. So, it sure has been a pleasure.”
That final (maybe) rodeo for the five-time MVP will come against Newton, who is expected to win his first MVP the night before the Super Bowl.
Worthy of the award
Bus Cook, one of Newton’s agents, said Newton deserves the MVP trophy.
“He’s become a leader on that ballclub. That’s who he is. He’s taken control. It’s taken a little time for him to get there, but he has arrived,” Cook said during a phone interview. “He’s a spectacular player, a great kid. What you see is what you get.”
Cook was in Mobile, Ala., at Senior Bowl practices Tuesday and didn’t want to comment specifically about Newton’s contract because he didn’t have it in front of him. But Cook said guaranteed money is always better than incentives.
Cook also said he and co-agents Tony Paige and Chitta Mallik were pleased with Newton’s contract.
“We worked together on getting that deal done and we got it done. It’s a very good contract,” Cook said. “It was a win-win for everybody at the time.”
It looks even better seven months later.