New contract in hand, Panthers QB Newton focused on winning titles

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A couple of years ago, Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman paused for an infamous seven seconds before answering when asked if Cam Newton was a franchise quarterback.

He eventually said yes. However, there’ll be no pausing anymore.

Newton, who is entering his fifth season with Carolina, inked a new five-year, $103.7 million contract Tuesday afternoon, a deal that runs through the 2020 season. His $60 million guaranteed is the second-highest amount for a quarterback, just one million shy of San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

"We secured a deal that obviously both sides feel comfortable with," Gettleman said. "It was important (to get it done before training camp) because you don’t any distractions."

For his part, Newton spoke in very humble terms and almost looked as though he was still trying to process what had taken place just hours before when he signed his name to the new contract.

"I’d like to thank (team owner Jerry) Richardson for giving me this opportunity," he said. "Nothing about this contract changes my approach to the game."

During his four seasons with the Panthers, Newton has posted a record of 30-31-1 as a starter and is 1-2 in the playoffs. He isn’t an accurate passer, having a completion percentage of just 59.5. However, he makes up for a lot of his bad passes with his legs, having rushed for 2,571 yards and 33 touchdowns. But Newton is coming off a below average season. He also had injuries from surgery, a hit in a football game and a car wreck.

"If you think of all the things he went through and the team went through last year, it just cemented what I felt," Gettlema said. "He continues to ascend and I think there’s plenty of room left."

Now that he has a massive new contract, Newton acknowledged that he has to be more leery of taking big shots, like the one that have him a lower back fracture during a preseason game last year.

"I want to win at all costs, but I have to realize what I mean to the team," Newton said. "I will be more mindful of the hits I take."

Gettleman said that from start to finish, the contract only took 11 days to get done. He said other quarterback signings had nothing to do with this one and that they submitted their first offer to Newton’s agents four days before Ryan Tannehill signed his new four-year, $77 million contract with Miami. For his part, Newton said he was never worried about getting a new deal done and that he had very little to do with it.

He figured it’d happen when the time was right.

"I didn’t want this to be a distraction," he said. "I pay good money to (my agents) that make this easy for me."

Gettleman and head coach Ron Rivera each stated numerous times they believe Newton is the quarterback to take them to the "promise land."

"I feel like I can get us there, as well," he said. "My main focus is to try and bring the Lombardi Trophy to the Carolinas by any means necessary. The most important stat in all of sports is wins and losses, and I’m nowhere close to where I want to be right now. … My job is to put up as many wins as possible."

1. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco, $61 million

2. Cam Newton, Carolina, $60 million

3. Tony Romo, Dallas, $55 million

4. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay, $54 million

4. Jay Cutler, Chicago, $54 million

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6. Sam Bradford, Philadelphia, $50 million

7. Ryan Tannehill, Miami, $45 million

8. Matt Ryan, Atlanta, $42 million

9. Matthew Stafford, Detroit, $41.5 million

10. Drew Brees, New Orleans, $40 million