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Newton, 31, signed with the Patriots after spending the first nine seasons of his career with the Carolina Panthers. The 2015 NFL MVP will compete with fellow Patriots quarterbacks Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer after struggling with injuries in each of the last two seasons.
Newton’s contract with the Patriots includes base pay of slightly more than $1 million for the 2020 season, the minimum veteran salary. He can earn up to $7.5 million based on incentives tied to playing time and on-field production.
Performance-based incentives are commonly used in NFL contracts. Former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s two-year, $50 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason includes an additional $9 million in contract escalators.
Still, the deal marks a downgrade in pay for Newton, who earned more than $16 million from the Panthers last season. Newton has made more than $121 million in salary during his NFL career.
The Patriots’ offer to Newton drew criticism from San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, who said it was “ridiculous” that a former MVP signed a minimum deal.