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#pounditTuesday, March 2, 2021

Off-base Richard Sherman calls Cam Newton’s contract ‘disgusting’

Richard Sherman 49ers

Richard Sherman is known for being outspoken on matters, so it was no surprise to see him weigh in on Cam Newton’s contract situation. But Sherman’s comments were completely off-base.

Newton signed with the New England Patriots on Sunday for one year at the league minimum, with the chance to make up to $7.5 million in incentives, according to Ian Rapoport.

Sherman asked how many league MVPs have “had” to sign for the minimum. He argued that less talented quarterbacks are getting $15-$16 million per year and called the situation “disgusting.”

Sherman’s tweet was unsurprisingly well-received by his audience that likely craves the call-out type of content, but it ignores so many factors that led to Newton’s contract.

How does Sherman know this was Newton’s only offer?

First, Sherman perhaps falsely declares that Newton “had” to sign for the minimum. What makes Sherman so sure that Newton “had” to sign for the minimum with New England and that he didn’t choose to sign with them? Last I checked, Sherman and Newton do not share agents, so unless Sherman is apprised of every single contract offer Newton did or did not receive, he should hedge on such declarative language. Also, if Newton were so unhappy about being “devalued”, he could have chosen not to play at all. So, yes, he did choose to sign the deal and did not “have” to.

Newton’s deal was the result of an oversupply of capable quarterbacks on the market

Second, Sherman should recognize that free agent contract values are a reflection of the market. In the offseasons when some less-talented quarterbacks signed for more money, perhaps there were fewer good quarterbacks available. That lack of supply for greater demand would drive up the price. This offseason, the supply of capable quarterbacks was greater than the availability of starting jobs.

By my count, there were at least six starter-caliber quarterbacks available this offseason: Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and Cam Newton.

There were only four teams that needed a starter: Tampa Bay, Carolina, Indianapolis and New England (Chicago needed a QB too but decided to trade for Nick Foles). That meant at most four of the six quarterbacks would get starter deals and be happy, while a few others would have to take backup-type deals. Tampa Bay chose Brady for obvious reasons; Indy chose Rivers; Carolina picked Bridgewater; and New England played up the Jarrett Stidham angle, acting like they didn’t need anyone else.

Newton had no leverage

As explained, the market for starting opportunities was gone. Did Newton express a willingness to teams to be a backup, in which case he might have been paid more, or did he want a chance to start, in which case he would have had to take what he could? If Newton wanted a chance to start — which based on his incentive-based contract with the Patriots, he did — there really was only one place to go: New England. The Patriots probably knew Cam had no other starting options and had no need to give him anything else than a minimum deal with incentives. That’s business.

Newton has several injury questions

Yes, Cam was the NFL MVP in 2015 and was spectacular that season. The 2015 Cam would be a $35-$40 million QB in this year’s NFL. But the 2020 Cam is not the 2015 version of Cam.

This is a Cam who couldn’t throw a Hail Mary in 2018 due to arm issues and needed shoulder surgery. This is a Cam who underwent Lisfranc surgery in December. Lisfranc injuries tend to linger and carry risks of being re-aggravated.

If Newton weren’t coming off significant arm and foot surgeries in consecutive seasons, Carolina probably would have kept him.

Cam took a prove-it deal, which Sherman should understand

Newton took a one-year prove-it deal. He’s choosing to gamble and bet on himself that he will be able to show how good he still is and cash in after the season. This is not dissimilar from Sherman’s situation when he signed an incentive-laden, team-friendly deal with San Francisco coming off a torn Achilles tendon. Sherman later proved his worth, just as Cam could do.

Sherman seems to be trying to play up a race or systemic angle here where one doesn’t belong. And for the record, Richard, the last time a former league MVP signed for the minimum was 2008 when Shaun Alexander signed with Washington. He was barely productive for them and was released after four games. He never played again. Before that, Rich Gannon won MVP in 2002 at age 37. He suffered a shoulder injury the following year and neck injury the year after and never played again.

This was a market/opportunity/injury matter more than anything else. Written in a non-pot stirring way, Sherman’s tweet could have read:

“Cam Newton isn’t that far removed from his 2015 MVP season. I understand why he took a prove-it deal and hope he can show everyone he still has it after a big surgery, just like I did with the 49ers after my Achilles surgery.”

But we know that tweet wouldn’t have gotten as many retweets and pats on the back from the unsophisticated Twitter crowd.


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