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As NFL.com's Chris Wesseling points out, perhaps the NFL's streakiest passer, the 26-year-old Newton isn't without his detractors. But the Panthers understand that he is also a rare talent with the potential to develop into one of the league's most unstoppable forces.
Part of that is realizing his throwing mechanics come and go. Wesseling notes, when Newton is wild, he tends to be wild high.
Which explains why general manager David Gettleman has overhauled Carolina's entire receiving corps, replacing smaller, less physical skill-position players with behemoths featuring huge strike zones -- such as Greg Olsen, Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess.
Newton's intangibles and athleticism often make up for the mechanics.
Newton, who set an NFL rookie passing record in 2011, made the Pro Bowl in two of his first three seasons and guided the Panthers to the first back-to-back playoff appearances in their history. He won his first playoff game in January when the Panthers beat Arizona 27-16 in a wild-card game before falling to Seattle in the divisional round.
Despite battling injuries that sidelined him for two games in 2014, Newton became the only player in NFL history to start his career with four consecutive seasons with at least 3,000 passing yards and 500 rushing yards.
It has been an eventful 12 months for Newton.
He underwent offseason ankle surgery last March, and cracked a rib during the preseason that kept him out of the regular-season opener at Tampa Bay. Newton injured his back in a December wreck that sent him to the hospital overnight and totaled his pickup truck.
As Charlotte Observer staffer Jonathan Jones notes, there was some thinking that Newton might be content to let Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck reset the quarterback market, both of whom could land deals worth as much as $25 million a year.
New Orleans’ Drew Brees set the current threshold for quarterbacks at $20 million per year in 2012, and four quarterbacks -- Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco -- received comparable deals in 2013. But all those quarterbacks came into the league under the old collective bargaining agreement. Newton was the first player taken in the 2011 draft under the new CBA and its rookie pay scale.
Sam Bradford signed a six-year, $78 million contract when drafted in 2010 as the No. 1 pick. Newton, the No. 1 pick a year later under the new CBA, signed a four-year deal worth $22 million.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, both of whom were drafted in the second round in 2011, signed long-term deals last year. Though both players could eventually earn upwards of $100 million in those respective deals, the contracts essentially become “show-me” deals after the second year.
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill became the first first-round pick under the new CBA to sign a long-term extension less than two weeks ago. He signed a six-year extension worth $96 million, with $45 million guaranteed.