Newton's Contract Impact (06/03/15)

By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
What impact will Newton's contract have on Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson?

The Carolina Panthers, per sources, have given Cam Newton a $103.8 million five-year extension. The two-time Pro Bowl selection would become the third-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL based on an average salary of $20.76 million a year.

What does Newton's hefty raise mean for other young franchise quarterbacks?

Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson are each in the process of negotiating new contracts. From a production standpoint both quarterbacks should be expected to sign for more money.

Newton only has one playoff win in four seasons and has a 30-31-1 record. Luck, the No. 1 overall pick three years ago, has led the Colts to three straight playoff appearances and double digit wins each season. Wilson, perhaps the best bargain in football ($1.7 million in 2015), has been to two Super Bowls and has one ring.

Our impact scores also suggest that both Luck and Wilson will get paid more than Newton. The impact score is a grade on a 0-10 scale based on a player's expected overall positive contribution at their current ages and relative to position. In the score, a seven or above can generally outperform a replacement player in the NFL at his position; an eight or above can be expected to start and a player with a rating over nine is a unique, standout player who stars.

Luck is one of just five players with an impact score greater than nine. The Colts passer, by impact score, is the third best signal caller in the NFL. Wilson's impact score of 8.56 is actually lower than Newton's 8.60. However, both are top ten quarterbacks by impact score and Wilson's two Super Bowl runs will be hard to ignore.

Our early 2015 projections also favor Luck and have Wilson and Newton with similar totals. Luck is projected to throw for 4,821.8 yards, 38.9 touchdowns and 15.7 interceptions. The Colts star is our number one quarterback in fantasy.

Wilson is projected to throw 3,677.5 passing yards and 27.5 touchdowns, both career-highs. Last year, Wilson led all quarterbacks in rushing and is expected to do so again this season. Wilson is projected to rush for 596.5 yards and 3.4 touchdowns.

Newton, like Wilson, is expected to have career highs in passing yards (4,020.0) and touchdowns (28.2). He also tallies 471.1 yards on the ground with an additional 3.8 rushing touchdowns.

Newton's deal will become the baseline for the extensions that Luck and Wilson sign in the near future but could also have ramifications for veteran passers. The New York Giant's Eli Manning and San Diego Chargers' Philip Rivers are set to become free agents after this season.

Rivers is a clear top ten quarterback by impact score (8.61). The five-time Pro Bowler rejuvenated his career in 2013 winning the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year. In 2014, Rivers threw for over 4,000 yards, the sixth time he has accomplished that feat in his career.

Eli Manning is a two-time Super Bowl champion. His impact score (8.09) ranks him as an average quarterback. Two years ago Manning led the NFL in interceptions. The emergence of Odell Beckham Jr. last season helped Manning throw for 30 touchdowns (9th in NFL) and cut his interceptions in half.

Rivers is projected to complete 64.3 percent of his passes for 3,975.1 yards, 33.5 touchdowns and 15.9 interceptions. Manning, again with the rise of Beckham Jr., is projected to throw for 4,544.9 yards (more than his brother Peyton), 33.9 touchdowns and 15.2 interceptions.

Neither quarterback is scheduled to make more than $17 million in 2015. A strong statistical season (as we project for both) and a playoff appearance could get both into the $20 million a year quarterback club.

Only six passers, Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Newton (when his deal is finalized), Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and Drew Brees average $20 million a year.

Speaking of Brees, the Saints' quarterback has a cap hit of $26.4 million in 2015 and $27.4 million in 2016. For a club that is dealing with cap issues, giving Brees an extension could help resolve or at least push their fiscal problems into the future.

Brees, for his part, is projected to be a top three quarterback in 2015. New Orleans' all-time leading passer throws for 4,642.6 yards, 37.2 touchdowns and 17.4 interceptions in our simulations.

Additional Notes

Newton's average yearly salary trails only Aaron Rodgers ($22 million) and Ben Roethlisberger ($21.85 million). Rodgers has the highest impact score (9.50) and Roethlisberger has the fourth best (9.19).

Newton has accounted for 115 passing and rushing touchdowns in his first four seasons, only Dan Marino and Peyton Manning had more. Manning's impact score is 8.55, the eleventh best among starters.

Quarterback Impact Scores

Team Quarterback Impact Score
Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers 9.50
New Orleans Saints Drew Brees 9.30
Indianapolis Colts Andrew Luck 9.28
Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger 9.19
New England Patriots Tom Brady 9.11
Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan 8.80
Dallas Cowboys Tony Romo 8.68
San Diego Chargers Philip Rivers 8.61
Carolina Panthers Cam Newton 8.60
Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson 8.56
Denver Broncos Peyton Manning 8.55
Tennessee Titans Marcus Mariota 8.48
Miami Dolphins Ryan Tannehill 8.39
Minnesota Vikings Teddy Bridgewater 8.29
Baltimore Ravens Joe Flacco 8.12
New York Giants Eli Manning 8.09
Arizona Cardinals Carson Palmer 8.06
Kansas City Chiefs Alex Smith 8.01
Philadelphia Eagles Sam Bradford 7.98
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jameis Winston 7.95
Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford 7.88
Washington Redskins Robert Griffin III 7.88
San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick 7.77
Cincinnati Bengals Andy Dalton 7.75
St. Louis Rams Nick Foles 7.67
Chicago Bears Jay Cutler 7.65
Houston Texans Brian Hoyer 7.32
Buffalo Bills Matt Cassel 7.27
New York Jets Geno Smith 7.14
Oakland Raiders Derek Carr 7.11
Cleveland Browns Josh McCown 7.04
Jacksonville Jaguars Blake Bortles 7.00