Earlier today, reports emerged that the Carolina Panthers were nearing a contract extension for quarterback Cam Newton, which NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reports will be a 5-year deal worth more than $100 million, paying him more than $20 million per year on average.
For Colts fans, the obvious question to ask after seeing those reported contract numbers for Newton is this: what does that deal mean for Andrew Luck? The Colts' quarterback's mega-deal is likely coming next offseason and is fully expected to make him the highest-paid player. Does Cam Newton's deal have much impact on Luck's deal?
Newton is now the second young quarterback to be signed to a mega-extension in recent weeks, following the Dolphins giving Ryan Tannehill a 6-year, $96 million deal. We mentioned at the time how that contract wouldn't have much impact on Luck's eventual deal, and the same is likely true of Newton's deal.
Cam Newton was the top overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the year before the Colts took Luck first overall. In four years he has played in 62 of 64 possible regular season games and has completed 59.5% of his passes for 14,426 yards (7.5 yards per attempt) with 82 touchdowns and 54 interceptions, leading the Panthers to two postseason appearances. He has also rushed for 2,571 yards and 33 touchdowns, however, averaging 5.5 yards per attempt. Through three years in the league, Luck has played in all 48 games and has completed 58.6% of his passes for 12,957 yards, 86 touchdowns, and 43 interceptions while leading the Colts to three playoff berths. He has also added 905 yards and 12 touchdowns rushing.
Newton's mega-deal illustrates very clearly just how terrified NFL teams are of being without a good quarterback. Newton is a good player without a doubt, but his contract value is inflated because the Panthers know that, in free agency or the draft, they would likely end up with someone worse so they can't afford to let Newton walk. That same mindset will come into play with the Colts and Luck - though likely less so.
In a span of a few weeks, we've now seen the eighth overall pick in the same draft class in which Luck was taken and the first overall pick from the year before Luck was taken both get mega-deals, and here's the thing: while they certainly impact the quarterback market, they're unlikely to really impact Luck's deal. Andrew Luck is expected to get around $24-25 million per year from the Colts on his new deal (likely next offseason), and that was the same both before Newton's extension and after. But, if the Dolphins or Panthers had waited to extend their quarterback until after Luck's deal, Tannehill and Newton might have had more leverage to get more money than they did.
The bottom line is this: we have to understand that Andrew Luck's looming contract will set the market for quarterbacks. He'll be the highest-paid player at around $24-25 million a year, and that's fully expected to happen regardless of what other quarterbacks get. The one thing that looking at these mega-deals for quarterbacks like Tannehill and Newton show is this: considering the way the market for quarterbacks today, $25 million a year for Andrew Luck seems perfectly fair. Nothing against either Ryan Tannehill or Cam Newton (who are both good quarterbacks), but if $16 million a year gets you Tannehill and $20 million a year gets you Newton, I'd absolutely be willing to pay $24-25 million a year to get Luck.