<
>

Is Cam Newton better than Matt Ryan?

Cam Newton's per year salary is just slightly higher than Matt Ryan's. Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The dust may have settled on Cam Newton's five-year, $103.8 million extension, but there still are questions about the franchise quarterback for the Carolina Panthers.

Let's get to them for my Saturday mailbag:


@DNewtonESPN: No. Newton is more athletic and a better rusher than Matt Ryan. But running isn't a part of the Atlanta quarterback's arsenal, although he's more fleet-footed than he's given credit. But in terms of an overall quarterback, Ryan gets the edge even though Newton now tops him slightly in average yearly salary ($20.76 million to $20.75 million). Ryan completes 64 percent of his passes; Newton 59.5 percent. Ryan has thrown for more than 4,000 yards in four consecutive seasons; Newton has done that once, his rookie year in 2011. Ryan's touchdown to interception ratio is 2.3; Newton's is 2.8. Ryan has thrown 22 or more touchdowns in six consecutive seasons; Newton has surpassed 21 once, throwing 24 in 2013. Ryan makes better overall decisions. He's a better pocket passer. He's got a better record (64-44 to 30-31-1). He's had four seasons of 10-plus wins; Newton has one. If Newton becomes better in the pocket, along with his running ability, you can make the argument he's better. Until then, Ryan gets my vote.


@DNewtonESPN: You bring up an interesting point. Many, it appear, developed their first impression of Newton based on a couple of incidents that occurred when he was in college. Newton still gets criticized for the times he hid under a towel on the sideline early in his career and for a 30-31-1 record that doesn't take into consideration the weakness of personnel around him. But Newton has come a long way the past two seasons in terms of a leader and a player. Anybody that doesn't see him as a top-15 quarterback pressing on the door to the top 10 isn't paying attention. The money will put him under the spotlight more until he wins consistently and wins more playoff games. He's 1-2 in the postseason. But yes, the deal likely will heat up criticism, fair or not.


@DNewtonESPN: I would expect Thomas Davis to have a new deal before training camp. The Panthers don't have to rush into a new deal for Luke Kuechly because they exercised his fifth-year option, guaranteeing he will be on the roster in 2016. I suspect Carolina will take a similar path with him as it did with Kuechly, signing him to an extension prior to the 2016 season to slightly reduce the $11,050,000 2016 salary cap hit and tie him up long term. I also could see it being done sooner if the money allows (see potential ways below).


@DNewtonESPN: As I wrote on Friday, the Panthers are $9,149,353 under the cap. They picked approximately another $1.7 million in room with Newton's extension. They can increase that total more by extending the deal of Thomas Davis, who is set to count $9.9 million against the 2015 cap. They add even more room by restructuring the deal of defensive end Charles Johnson, who is set to count $20,020,000 million against the cap. If that happens, as mentioned above, you possibly could see Kuechly's deal extended sooner rather than later.