The Philadelphia Eagles face the unusual dilemma of having Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles riding the bench in 2018 behind Carson Wentz. The Minnesota Vikings have to decide which combination of Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford to keep in free agency.
The Washington Redskins have to decide whether it’s worth the gamble to put the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins for bargaining power after trading for Alex Smith.
The New Orleans Saints have to figure out how much future Hall of Famer Drew Brees is worth at the age of 39.
The New York Jets are among a handful of teams faced with finding a quarterback, period.
Quarterbacks will be the talk of the NFL offseason, but not with the Carolina Panthers.
Beyond trying to get Cam Newton to become more consistent under new offensive coordinator Norv Turner, the organization is set at the most important position on the team through the 2020 season.
And at a bargain price.
Remember how before the 2015 season some questioned the sanity of former general manager Dave Gettleman when he gave Newton, with one winning record in his first four seasons, a five-year $103.8 million deal?
That’s now a huge bargain by today’s standards.
Newton, among the top-five highest-paid quarterbacks in the league three years ago, ranks 12th heading into the 2018 season with an average salary of $20,760,000.
Make that 13th once Smith’s deal, which will average out at $23.5 million a year, becomes official.
The only thing that could change that would be if soon-to-be free agents Brees and Cousins, fourth and fifth in average salary, got new deals below Newton’s average. That doesn’t seem likely.
As much criticism as Newton gets for a poor completion percentage and making questionable decisions, he has proved worthy of his deal. He’s led the Panthers to the playoffs in two of the past three seasons, including a trip to the Super Bowl in 2015, when he won the league MVP award.
Anyone who complains that Newton didn’t earn his pay this past season, when his Total Quarterback Rating was 19th (47.7), should look at where some of the other top-paid quarterbacks ranked.
Oakland’s Derek Carr, second in average salary ($25 million), ranked 20th with a QBR of 46.7. Baltimore’s Joe Flacco, sixth in average salary ($22,133,333), was 23rd with a rating of 43.0.
Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, the highest-paid quarterback with an average salary of $27 million, couldn’t get the Lions into the playoffs despite ranking seventh in QBR with a rating of 61.7.
As Carolina coach Ron Rivera often says when talking about numbers or statistics, “figures lie and liars figure.’’
But in terms of the figures the Panthers gave Newton three years ago, there is nothing to suggest he was overpaid.
Newton’s 32-14 regular-season record since he signed the deal is better than any of the 11 quarterbacks ranked ahead of him in pay during that span. He’s the only one of that group with a league MVP over the past three seasons.
He’s the only one of that group to reach the Super Bowl during that span. Five of those ahead of him never have reached the title game.
Newton’s 97 touchdowns — 76 passing and 21 rushing — the past three years are more than Stafford (88) and Carr (82).
So ultimately the Panthers made the right decision in signing Newton to a price tag that once was questioned.