There has never been a spectacle as great as Cam Newton in Carolina Panthers history.
Fans and reporters watch his every move and hange on his every word.
That’s part of the territory when you are taken first overall in the NFL Draft.
In the past, many first round picks would hold out and miss several days of training camp in an effort to secure a perfect deal. The Panthers have had their share of them: Tshimanga Biakabutuka and Jason Peter come to mind.
“It was very, very important to me to get in camp on time to get around my team and my coaches to start understanding the playbook and bringing everything to fruition,” Newton said on Saturday.
Newton signed a 4-year, $22 million contract on Friday — all of which is fully guaranteed. That’s $28 million less guaranteed than last year’s top pick Sam Bradford will receive.
Still, Newton says he’s not worried about the money.
“It really doesn’t matter. Any way you look at it, I’ve still got more money than I’ve ever had,” Newton said. “I don’t look at it as a numbers scale; I’m still blessed in the situation that God has put me in.
“At the same time, in this League they set standards. If you play the way you’re supposed to play and the way everybody is predicting that you’re going to play, you’re going to be all right.”
The Panthers have an option for a fifth year in Newton’s contract which would pay him $14 million extra. By then, however, the Panthers will either extend the contract or be ready to part ways with him if he hasn’t performed in the four previous years.
When asked if Newton has a shot at starting day one, new Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera indicated that it’d be an open competition competition between Newton and last year’s second round pick Jimmy Clausen. Despite their competition, Newton and Clausen have a mutual respect for one another.
“I know me and Jimmy are battling for the starting spot, but I’m learning a lot of things from Jimmy. He’s helping me out through this process, and, hopefully, I can help Jimmy out also,” Newton said. “The golden rule is that competition brings out the best in everybody, but at the end of the day, we’re still teammates. We still have respect for each other.
“It’s not like he’s walking to practice and I’m running, trying to get to practice before he is. It’s a comfortable, competitive relationship.”
The first real compeition will come August 13, when the Panthers host the New York Giants at Bank of America Stadium. That’s where we’ll see just how far Newton has or hasn’t come.