It's an important season for Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, the former No. 1 overall pick and Heisman winner, as he is eligible to get a massive new extension. Here's a look at some of Newton's NFL player props for the upcoming campaign.
Show Me The Money!
Newton is already a very rich man, but he could break the bank with a huge season. He was chosen first in the 2011 draft. Meanwhile, in the past couple of months Cincinnati's Andy Dalton signed a six-year, $115 M extension and San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick got a six-year, $126 million deal. Dalton was the No. 35 overall pick by the Bengals in 2011, while Kaepernick went one spot later to the Niners. Logic dictates that Newton deserves more than those two. Well, unless you go by records. Newton is 25-23 in his career in the regular season with no playoff wins. Dalton is 30-18 but also looking for his first playoff win. Kaepernick is 17-6 and has led the 49ers to a Super Bowl. The Panthers aren't in a huge rush to sign Newton because they exercised the fifth-year option on Newton's rookie deal that will pay him $14.67 million next year. Newton is making less than $4 million this season, however.
The former Auburn star didn't play in Carolina's 20-18 preseason opening loss to visiting Buffalo. Newton is still rehabbing his left ankle that underwent surgery in March. He was medically cleared on Sunday and should play this week against the Chiefs. The Panthers break training camp Tuesday.
Newton needs to get as many reps as possible because his top three receivers from last year, Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn, all have moved on. The Panthers weren't a great passing team as it was, ranking 29th in yards per game. So now Newton needs to get in synch with new guys like 2014 first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin and free-agent signees such as Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant and Tiquan Underwood. On the surface, it looks like the worst group of receivers in the NFL outside of Cleveland (assuming the Browns don't have Josh Gordon this year).
Thus Newton may have to do more with his feet, which puts his health more at risk. Last year, Newton rushed 111 times for 585 yards and a team-leading six touchdowns. Newton's carries, yards, yards per carry and touchdowns were all career lows. He did set career highs by completing 61.7 percent of his passes and with 24 touchdowns and an 88.8 quarterback rating in leading the Panthers to the NFC South title.
Newton is +3000 to win NFL MVP in 2014 and a +20000 long shot on NFL odds to lead the league in passing yards. While Newton might win an MVP someday, maybe even this year, he's probably not going to ever lead the NFL in passing yards. He's not that type of quarterback and not in a system devised to put up big passing yardage numbers. There are also a handful of statistical props on Newton's season: He is +1500 to rush for more than 750 yards, +2000 to pass for more than 4,000, +500 to score at least 10 rushing touchdowns, +1000 to throw for 25 or more touchdowns, +900 to rush for at least 100 yards in any game, +2000 to score a rushing TD and passing TD in at least 10 games, and +800 to throw for more than 300 yards in at least five games.
Newton has yet to rush for more than 750 yards -- his high was 741 in 2012. He did top 4,000 passing (4,051) as a rookie but his yardage has decreased each season since to last year's 3,379. Newton rushed for 14 touchdowns as a rookie but eight and six the next two years. As noted, his 24 TD passes last year were a career best. Newton didn't sniff a 100-yard rushing game in 2013, with a high of 72. He had six games with at least one rushing and passing TD. Newton topped 300 yards passing once: 308 in a 22-6 loss at Arizona.
NFL free picks: Some of those numbers look very reasonable on the surface: 4,000 yards passing and 25 touchdowns especially. However, as noted above this is not a good receiving group. The Panthers are going to be a run-heavy team again. The only prop I would lean here is the 10 rushing touchdowns on NFL odds. Newton will vulture a lot of goal-line touchdowns at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds. I'm on the fence on the 25 TD passes and could be talked into that. Nothing else.