Cam Newton is sticking around. The Patriots have agreed to a one-year contract with the veteran quarterback, a league source confirmed Friday.
Newton’s one-year deal with the Patriots is worth a maximum of $13.6 million, but has only $3.5 million fully guaranteed, per a copy of the contract obtained by the Globe. His salary cap number will be about $5.4 million.
Newton received a $2 million signing bonus and has a fully guaranteed base salary of $1.5 million. He also gets a $100,000 offseason workout bonus. He can make up to $1.5 million in per-game roster bonuses (over $88,000 for every game he is active).
Newton has $3.5 million in playing-time bonuses (starting at 60 percent of the team’s offensive snaps), most of which are tied to the Patriots reaching the playoffs. He gets $500,000 for making the Pro Bowl on the original ballot and $500,000 for earning first- or second-team All Pro. Newton would also receive $500,000 for every postseason win in which he plays 50 percent of the snaps (excluding the Super Bowl). He gets an extra $1.5 million for winning the Super Bowl and playing 50 percent of snaps, and another $1 million for winning Super Bowl MVP.
During a recent appearance on the “I Am Athlete” podcast, the 2015 NFL MVP hinted that a return was in the works, telling host Brandon Marshall, “Hell yes,” he would come back.
“I’m getting tired of changing [teams],” Newton said. “I’m at a point in my career where I know way more than I did last year. Yes, I would go back.”
Newton made an afternoon Instagram post, video of himself landing at Logan Airport last July along with highlights from the season with the caption “!! Run it back !!”
Former Patriots quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch, who left the team in the offseason to become head coach at the University of Arizona, welcomed the development.
”So Happy to See this! @CameronNewton is a special person and a great player,” Fisch wrote on Twitter. “Can’t wait to watch him excel this season!”
Several teammates also took to social media to express their excitement at the news that the quarterback is back.
Locking up Newton gives the Patriots a plan to build on with free agency, which formally begins Wednesday; agents and teams can begin discussing deals Monday. It does not, however, preclude the club from making other moves to bolster the position through free agent signings, trades, and the draft.
New England also has quarterbacks Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala (who spent last year on the practice squad) under contract.
Newton, who will turn 32 in May, compiled a 7-8 record in 2020, seizing the starter’s job during a truncated training camp after agreeing to a one-year deal in July.
He completed 242 of 368 passes for 2,657 yards with 8 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while playing 87 percent of the snaps. His receiving corps was often in a state of flux because of injuries and inexperience, with the loss of Julian Edelman for the final 10 games because of a knee injury the biggest blow.
Newton excelled as a rushing threat, carrying 137 times for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns. He had a sizzling start to the season, leading the Patriots to wins over the Dolphins and Raiders sandwiched around a loss on the final play in Seattle.
But he tested positive for COVID-19 just days before the Week 4 showdown in Kansas City, and he acknowledged following his recuperation that it was a struggle to keep pace with an offense that he had only scratched the surface of learning.
His play fell off after his return, but Newton showed flashes during a midseason stretch when the Patriots went 4-1 to get back into playoff contention. Three straight losses sealed the club’s fate before a season-ending win over the Jets.
Newton, who came to New England after his last two seasons in Carolina were cut short by shoulder and foot injuries, said he accomplished one of his goals in 2020 by making it through the campaign healthy. Now, with a full offseason and training camp in the Patriots program, he can get the chance to accomplish more goals.
Signing Newton likely is the first of several significant moves as the Patriots, armed with upward of $60 million in salary-cap space, look to overhaul their roster after failing to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season.
Newton immediately became a popular figure in the Patriots organization, embracing his leadership role as he took over for Tom Brady, the most decorated player in league history.
He drew praise from coach Bill Belichick for his personality, presence, and work ethic throughout the season.
“He’s a very, very unselfish player,” Belichick said in September. “He’s a great teammate. He’s earned everybody’s respect, really, daily. He just continues to do everything that he can to help our team and that’s really all you can ask from anyone and he continually does that, puts himself last and puts the team first.”
Despite COVID-19 restrictions, Newton was adept at connecting with teammates. He was voted a captain shortly after camp broke.
Following the season finale, in which Newton threw three touchdown passes and caught another, he reflected on his season, and even then sounded like a man hoping for another chance.
“I have my desires — I know where my heart’s at,” he said. “I know things, who I am. But as far as [returning], I can’t really speak on it right now. But just my whole time in New England has been a blessing. I’ve learned so much about myself, about great teammates, unbelievable coaching. Yeah, so I’ll just see how it goes, go from there.”
The timing of the signing isn’t a big surprise, as Newton stated in January that he regretted waiting so long to ink a deal last summer, and his intention was to get under contract quickly this offseason.
Newton also lamented not being able to play in front of fans at Gillette Stadium. Now, he’ll get that opportunity.
“That was a great regret for me; I was anticipating just playing in front of the fans in Foxborough or New England,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity to play against the Patriots, obviously, with the other team. Seeing how emphatic they were about their team, I just wanted to witness it.
“I know that would have probably been a cool experience. With me being such an emotional energy type of guy, not having the fans there to give you that extra boost, who knows what would have happened?”