By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — When the Patriots signed Cam Newton, it was immediately clear that the deal would be low on the base salary and heavy on the incentives. Now we know precisely what the quarterback must do if he wants to earn that full $7.5 million.

And suffice it to say, the Patriots are going to really make him earn it.

While the Patriots could have easily included Not Likely To Be Earned incentives based on Newton’s paltry stats in an injury-shortened 2019 season, the team instead put some lofty targets for Newton in the deal.

Notably, Newton can earn $500,000 if he’s named to the Pro Bowl, and $500,000 more if he earns All-Pro honors. Newton was an All-Pro once, back in his 2015 MVP season, and he’s a three-time Pro Bowler — but he hasn’t made a Pro Bowl since 2015 either.

Additionally, Newton can earn $250,000 for each playoff win, provided he plays at least 50 perecent of the team’s offensive snaps. The maximum he can earn there would be $1 million, which would require the Patriots to win four playoff games — and, consequently, the Super Bowl. A wild card team has not won the Super Bowl since the 2010 Packers, so earning that full million is unlikely — but not impossible — to be fulfilled by Newton.

All of the details come from ESPN’s Field Yates, who tweeted out the incentives on Thursday.

Provided Newton earns the starting quarterback job and stays healthy, he will be in line to make $2.25 million — which will get bumped up to $3.75 million if the Patriots make the playoffs. Add in $700,000 in per-game roster bonuses, and Newton can realistically be looking at a $5.5 million payday in 2020, provided:

–He starts at QB
–He stays healthy for at least 15 games
–He plays like a league-average QB or better
–The Patriots make the playoffs

Certainly, none of that is a guarantee, given Newton’s injury problems in recent years. But for a former MVP who’s still just 31 years old, achieving that part of the salary seems more than doable.

As for the Pro Bowl, and the All-Pro, and of course the Super Bowl? Those challenges are a bit steeper. But if Newton can pocket some of those accolades, the Patriots in that scenario will be more than happy to fork over some extra millions for the QB who would be leading them to glory.

The amount of work Newton needs to do at the highest level in order to earn the $7.5 million shows that the Patriots didn’t do the quarterback any favors with that deal. Considering this is the same team that made the likes of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski hit some difficult-to-earn incentives, that shouldn’t be surprising. It also shows that the market for Newton must have been as nonexistent as reported.

In any event, by all reports — including from Newton himself — the quarterback will be on a mission to prove everybody wrong for ignoring him this offseason. If he succeeds, he’ll find his bank account to be a little extra healthy come next winter.


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